Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 9th, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1973 (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), USA, 1976 (The Witch Who Came from the Sea, The Premonition)
Directors: Christopher Speeth (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), Matt Cimber (The Witch Who Came from the Sea), Robert Allen Schnitzer (The Premonition)
Writers: Werner Liepolt (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), Robert Thom (The Witch Who Came from the Sea), Anthony Mahon, Louis Pastore, Robert Allen Schnitzer (The Premonition)
Cast: Janine Carazo, Jerome Dempsey, Daniel Dietrich, Lenny Baker, Hervé Villechaize (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), Millie Perkins, Lonny Chapman, Vanessa Brown, Peggy Feury, Jean Pierre Camps, Mark Livingston, George ‘Buck’ Flower (The Witch Who Came from the Sea), Sharon Farrell, Edward Bell, Danielle Brisebois, Ellen Barber, Richard Lynch, Chitra Neogy, Jeff Corey (The Premonition)
BluRay released: February 23rd, 2016
Approximate running times: 74 minutes (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood), 88 Minutes (The Witch Who Came from the Sea), 93 minutes (The Premonition)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood, The Premonition), 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Witch Who Came from the Sea)
Sound: LPCM Mono English (All Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (All Films)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $99.95
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood: A family looking for their daughter get job’s at the last place she was seen, a rundown carnival. And shortly after their arrival strange things start to happen at the carnival. Will they find their missing daughter or will they succumb to the same fate of their missing loved one?
The film’s narrative is straight forward and easy to follow. And pacing wise though there are a few lulls along the way. There is an ample amount of blood, cannibalism and weirdness to keep things on moving forward. Visually the most memorable moments are those involving bloodletting. Performance wise the wooden acting is on par with other micro budget Horror films.
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood is one of those rare examples where a filmmaker finds a perfect balance between art-house sensibilities and Horror genre conventions. And though this film does a good job exploiting many Horror genre staples. Ultimately its greatest asset is the atmosphere which is its able to create and sustain.
The Witch Who Came from the Sea: An unbalanced woman unable to cope with a childhood trauma goes on a killing spree.
The Witch Who Came from the Sea was directed by Matt Cimber whose other notable films include, The Candy Tangerine Man, Lady Cocoa and Butterfly. Key collaborators on The Witch Who Came from the Sea include, cinematographer Dean Cundey (Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China), screenwriter Robert Thom (Death Race 2000, Crazy Mama) and composer Herschel Burke Gilbert (Riot in Cell Block 11, While the City Sleeps).
Content wise, though this psychological thriller contains elements that one would associated with rape / revenge films. The end result is something that far transcends other rape / revenge themed films. With a key difference being in this film the protagonist does not exact her revenge on the person who traumatized her. She seeks outs surrogates who then take that person’s place.
The film’s narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issue as each new revelations is given an ample amount of time to resonate. Also this film protagonist is well defined and another area where this film does a great job is with flashbacks that help fill in back-story.
Another strength of this film is its ability to set and maintain mood. And nowhere is more evident then when it comes to this film’s atmospheric visuals. With the most striking moments being the aforementioned flashbacks scenes and the scenes where the protagonist goes berserk on her victims.
Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank, The Shooting) in the role of Molly, a disturbed woman who sexually abused by her father. And Perkins delivers an extraordinary performance that resonates long after this film’s final moment of clarity. Ultimately The Witch Who Came from the Sea is an exceptional psychological thriller that does a remarkable job handling controversial subject matter.
The Premonition: A woman is haunted by the visions she is having of her adopted daughter being abducted by her birth mother.
The Premonition was directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer whose limited filmography includes, No Place to Hide (Sylvester Stallone’s first starring role). Key collaborators on The Premonition include, Victor Milt (Sex Wish) and screenwriter Louis Pastore (Family Honor).
Content wise, though The Premonition is often referred to a Horror film and this is mostly due to its premise a character who has ESP. When at its core this film is actually a melodrama and its greatest strength are its well defined characters.
The film’s narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issue with each new revelation being given an ample amount of time to resonate. Another strength of this film is its ability to create and sustain a foreboding tone. And nowhere is this more evident than during the moments mother sees visions of her adopted daughter’s birth mother trying to take the child away.
Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles, especially Sharon Farrell (It’s Alive, The Stunt Man) in the role of Sheri Bennett, the woman who is having visions that her adopted daughters mother is trying to take her away. She delivers an utterly convincing performances that evokes pathos. Other performances of note include, Ellen Barber in the role of Andrea Fletcher, the child’s birth mother and Richard Lynch (God Told Me To) in the role of Jude, Andrea’s unbalanced boyfriend who she met at a psychiatric ward.
Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood comes on a 50 GB dual layer (26.7 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen.
The Witch Who Came from the Sea comes on a 50 GB dual layer (31.5 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen.
The Premonition comes on a 50 GB dual layer (45.4 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen.
Presentation wise all three films have been given brand new 2k transfers and they are all significant upgrades when compared to their previous home video releases.
Each film comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included for each film. And The Premonition comes a second audio option that allows you to listen to an isolated track for this film’s score.
Extras for Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood include, draft screenplay (BD / DVD-ROM content), reversible cover art, an intro before the film with author Steven Thrower (Nightmare USA), an image gallery, outtakes (2 minutes 59 seconds), interviews with director Christopher Speeth (14 minutes 6 seconds), screenwriter Werner Liepolt (11 minutes 49 seconds) and art directors Richard Stang and Alan Johnson (10 minutes 10 seconds) and an audio commentary with film historian Richard Harland Smith.
Topics discussed in the interview with Christopher Speeth include, how he met the film’s producer Richard Grossman and how he did the special effects for the film, how the film’s main interiors where not shot at the film’s Willow Grove Park, the cast, cinematographer Norman Gaines and how the film was shot in four weeks, how the limited about of footage dictated the editing, audience reaction to the film and his thoughts about the final product.
Topics discussed in the interview with Werner Liepolt include, how he got involved in the film, collaborating with Christopher Speeth, his involvement in helping with the casting, the screenplay and his thoughts about the final product.
Topics discussed in the interview with Richard Stang and Alan Johnson include, how they got involved in the making of this film, their thoughts on the screenplay, how they built the majority of the interior locations and other production related topics.
The audio commentary with Richard Harland Smith is an insightful track that gives a detailed account about the making of this film and those who were involved in making it.
Extras for The Witch Who Came from the Sea include, an intro before the film with author Steven Thrower (Nightmare USA), a featurette titled ‘A Maiden’s Voyage’ (36 minutes 14 seconds), an interview with director Matt Cimber titled ‘Lost at Sea’ (3 minutes 55 seconds), a documentary titled ‘Tides and Nightmares’ (23 minutes 28 seconds) and an audio commentary with Matt Cimber, Director of Photography Dean Cundey and actress Millie Perkins.
Topics discussed in the interview with Matt Cimber include, why this film has connected with some many people, reaction to the film and what happened to the film’s original negative.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘A Maiden’s Voyage’ include, the origins of the project, the screenplay, the look of film and how it enhanced the narrative, the cast, their thoughts about the film’s subject matter, cinema influences and their thoughts on the final product.
Director Matt Cimber: Screenwriter Robert Thom, how he got involved in making this film, Millie Perkins and his thoughts about her performance, the look of the film, key scenes in the film, the cast, the MPAA’s reaction to the film and his thoughts on the final product.
Director of Photography Dean Cundey: Working with Millie Perkins, the look of the film and his thoughts on the final product.
Actress Millie Perkins: How the screenplay was written by her then husband for her to star in and her thoughts on the final product.
Actor John Goff: Why he was cast for the role he portrays in this film, working with Matt Cimber and his thoughts on the final product.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Matt Cimber, Dean Cundey and actress Millie Perkins inlcude, the cast, Robert Thom and the screenplay, the film’s controversial subject matter and the reaction to it, the look of the film and how it was forward looking technique wise, Millie Perkins and thoughts about her performance and other production related topics.
Extras for The Premonition include, reversible cover art, an intro before the film with author Steven Thrower (Nightmare USA), T.V. spots (3 minutes 27 seconds), theatrical trailer for the film (2 minutes 23 seconds), four promos for the movement against the Vietnam War under the title ‘Peace Spots’ (3 minutes 38 seconds), interviews with director Robert Allen Schnitzer (5 minutes 51 seconds) and actor Richard Lynch (16 minutes 6 seconds), three short films also directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer, ‘Terminal Point’ (40 minutes 45 seconds), ‘Vernal Equinox’ (30 minutes 8 seconds) and ‘A Rumbling in the Land’ (11 minutes 5 seconds), a ‘Making of’ documentary titled ‘Pictures from a Premonition’ (21 minutes 19 seconds) and audio commentary with Robert Allen Schnitzer.
Topics discussed in the interview with Robert Allen Schnitzer include, how he got involved in making The Premonition, the screenplay, how the was shot in six weeks, securing distribution for the film before it was made and audience reaction to the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Richard Lynch include, how to survive and be successful as an actor, his thoughts on the film, typecasting and how his early roles lead to him being often cast in the villain role, Danielle Brisebois and her performance, Jude the character he portrays in the film and his thoughts about how the film turned out.
Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Pictures from a Premonition’ include:
Director Robert Allen Schnitzer: The film’s original title was Turtle Heaven, the film was based on a screenplay that he purchased called The Adoption, changes made to the original script, how event from his life inspired him to make The Premonition, the cast and his thoughts on their performances, collaborating with Victor Milt, why the violence in the film is kept off screen, locations featured in the film, filmmakers who influenced him, the film’s score, critical and audience reaction to the film and his thoughts about the final product.
Cinematographer Victor Milt: How he usually reads a script before he excepts a job, collaborating with Robert Allen Schnitzer, the look of the film and shooting the bulk of the film handheld.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Robert Allen Schnitzer include, why they shot the film is southern Mississippi, the cast and thoughts about their performances, the film’s score, creating special effects on a limited budget, what he was trying to achieve with this film and his thoughts about the final product. Also throughout the audio commentary the director discusses / describes key moments in the film.
Rounding out the extras is a sixty-page booklet cast & crew information for each film, an essay about this collection of films titled ‘American Horror Project: The Return of the Exploitation Independents’ written by Stephan Thrower, essays for each film ‘All the Fun at the Fair: Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood’ written by Kim Newman, ‘A Goddamn American Saint: The Perversion of Perfection in The Witch Who Came from the Sea’ written by Kier-La Janisse and ‘Motherhood, Metapsychics, Mississippi, and The Premonition’ written by Brian Albright and information about the transfers. Also included with this release are DVD’s that have the same content that is included on their Blu-Ray counterparts included as part of this combo release.
Overall Arrow Video’s American Horror Project volume 1 is an extraordinary release that gives three obscure films exceptional presentations that are above and beyond all of these films previous home video releases, highly recommended.
Note: This is a limited edition release (3,000 copies).