WES CRAVEN COLLECTION
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Serpent and the Rainbow: An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people in zombies.
Shocker: After being sent to the electric chair, a serial killer uses electricity to come back from the dead and carry out his vengeance on the football player who turned him in to the police.
People Under the Stairs: The People Under the Stairs is the story of a young boy (Fool) from the ghetto and takes place on his 13th birthday. In an attempted burglary (along with two others) of the home of his family's evil landlords, he becomes trapped inside their large suburban house and discovers the secret of the "children" that the insane brother and sister have been "rearing" under the stairs.
Is it good movie?
I don't have a lot of room to go in-depth with these bad boys so bare with me here as I give you the 'gist' of each one.
Serpent and the Rainbow: This was the only movie in the set that I actually hadn't seen before, and it's really sort of bizarre. Craven goes to Haiti to show American audiences the terror of voodoo. I more or less got what I expected in this film and I can say that it's actually quite good, but here's the thing- except for the last 40 minutes or so, there isn't a lot of 'horror' here.
The basic story deals with people being re-animated and Pullman's scientist dude trying to find out what's going on. The people of Haiti of course want to keep the white devil away from their secrets and practices (he is often referred to as "Blanc") and the rich American fat cats want Pullman to bring the drug back to the States to make a super anesthetic.
This isn't a quickly paced movie, but it picks up steam near the end. The acting is pretty good, especially from the Haitian people. Even Paul Winfield makes an appearance! My only complaint is that the movie takes itself pretty seriously for the most part and then by the end, people are ripping their heads off and going through some really supernatural stuff that doesn't jive with the rest of the film. I'd say we're one for three so far.
Next up on this disc is Shocker.
Shocker is a piece of shit. I don't mean to mince words or skirt around the subject, but this movie is absolutely unwatchable and is almost completely awful. Craven has since admitted that this movie was a jealous cash grab attempt to make up for the millions of dollars his character Freddy Krueger was making in the awful MTV Nightmare sequels.
The plot is awful and full of holes, and Horace Pinker might start out as an evil guy, but he quickly degenerates into a wisecracking joker who kills people in terrible ways. Mitch Pileggi is definitely trying hard, but as soon as the people electrocute him, it all goes very wrong. They do the stupid body switching gimmick, and the finale was just awful. You can only stare wide-eyed as the battle for good and evil literally takes place on various TV stations, including a live news broadcast.
Be warned: this is a terrible slasher movie. You might laugh, but you won't be scared. Watch this only to see Craven at his most desperate. This one is a big swing and a miss.
Finally, we have The People Under the Stairs.
Tidbit: I actually have a tattoo based on something from this movie, although it's more loosely based than anything.
I dig this movie, it's like a crazy-go-nuts comic book or something. The protagonist is Fool, young Brandon Adams who stars as a would be thief stuck in the absolute wrong place at the absolute wrong time. It turns out that the stories are even worse than he'd heard..the people who live in the house are a crazy mother and father who have been trapping people within the catacombs of their home for years.
As a terrifying film, I wouldn't say this should get very high marks. As a strange sort of look into poverty, race and in a bizarre way, sexuality, this movie's great. I think that the highest marks should go to Everett McGill and Wendy Robie, who play the house's crazy owners, commonly referred to as "Mom and Dad". Their performances are manic, especially McGill, who seems to channel Jim Carrey, Bruce Campbell and Richard Moll all in one performance.
The flick manages to be interesting and captivating, with lots of twists and turns. If for no other reason, you should watch this movie because it's different.
Video / Audio
All films are presented in 1:85:1 widescreen, and the quality is pretty good, except for Shocker. Nothing about that movie is good.
Audio struggles a bit too, because each film is presented only in Dolby 2.0, for shame!
Not one thing, zilch.
This collection is okay, as long as you're not paying much for it. If it's under twenty bucks I'd recommend it. Shocker is awful unless you're out of your mind with your buddies, and the other two films are decent, my favorite being People Under the Stairs. The future is in your hands, fair readers.