What’s out on Blu-ray in October: Jackals, The Lure, Red Planet, The Poughkeepsie Tapes

Adam RuhlBlu-Ray Review, HorrorLeave a Comment


Justin (Ben Sullivan) is kidnapped back by his family from a cult in an effort to deprogram him. However, the entire cult swarms the secluded cabin they are holed up in with the intent of getting him back. The woods become a war zone in this thriller in the vein of The Strangers and Assault on Precinct 13.

Jackals, I’ll be honest, at first glance doesn’t look like much. It’s not helped by the fact that some scenes, most namely the first one, are liberally cribbed from older great horror movies. However, once we get into the plot there’s actually a pretty solid cult terror here. Add in some money behind the production along with Stephen Dorff and a roster of pretty solid actors and it makes Jackals a decent Friday night horror watch.

Special Features include:

  • Commentary with Director Kevin Greutert and Writer Jared Rivet
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Trailers


The Lure

A pair of teenage mermaids try to lure members of a rock band into the water to eat them in 1980’s Poland. Instead, they end up part of the band and then singers on their own in this curious, musical horror tale. Things swing south for them as they begin to interact more with the human world and encounter concepts like love while also trying to suppress they’re own murderous instincts.

The Lure stands out in many ways but the first thing that strikes me is the look of it. There is this wonderful palette and cinematography that is so beautiful, it is a real pleasure to watch. Good acting and story is coupled with a great monster movie ethic to keep things interesting. On top of that the fact that it’s a musical adds a brilliant twist of weird to the whole thing.

Special Features include:

  • High-definition digital master, supervised by director of photography Kuba Kijowski, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • New program about the making of the film, featuring interviews with director Agnieszka Smoczynska, actors Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska, screenwriter Robert Bolesto, Kijowski, composers Barbara and Zuzanna Wronski, sound designer Marcin Lenarczyk, and choreographer Kaya Ko odziejczyk
  • Deleted scenes
  • Aria Diva (2007) and Viva Maria! (2010), two short films directed by Smoczynska
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by writer Angela Lovell


Red Christmas

(Note: this film was originally reviewed when it premiered at Fantasia International. I did not find my opinion substantially moved on second viewing.)

It’s Christmas time in Australia (or it may be the American South? Dee Wallace is American but her children are all played by Australians. I wasn’t ever sure. I digress) and Diane (Dee Wallace) is having the family in for Christmas before she sells the family home and travels to Europe. The children don’t get along, one is religious, the other is not, etc. All that is interrupted when a bandaged stranger named Cletus appears at their door with a letter for his ‘mother’. The letter says that Diane tried to abort Cletus twenty years earlier and he was rescued by an anti-abortion activist; who raised him. Diane violently rejects him and has Cletus tossed from the house. Unfortunately for them all, Cletus has been raised by a radically religious, vengeful man and he’s going to get some righteous revenge with a hatchet!

Don’t let the abortion motif fool you, there’s not a real political message here. The whole thing just provides a twisted set up to a more or less typical isolated-house-late-at-night slaughter fest. Dee Wallace stars and also serves as producer, adding class and credibility to the production, but once the hatchet starts flying the film goes mostly by the numbers. The kills are plentiful, but a little generic and, weirdly, the film often cuts away from gore or only shows the aftermath of an attack.

Special Features include:

  • Interview with Dee Wallace
  • Interview with Gerald Odwyer
  • Blooper Reel
  • A Deleted Scene (just the one)
  • Craig Anderson mini-interview
  • Director’s Commentary


The Poughkeepsie Tapes

Police raid a house in Poughkeepsie New York and find a serial killer had been living there and kept many thousands of video tapes documenting the abduction, torture, and murder of his victims over the years. The film is presented as a documentary showing interviews with police and FBI as well as actual footage of the crimes on the tapes.

This is a fictionalized serial killer found footage film, filmed in 2007 at the height of the Paranormal Activity fad and just released now. It’s dated and primitive by today’s standards but does have a unique blending of torture porn elements fit for movies like Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer. It’s a wholly ugly and unpleasant experience as a movie; a holdover from an era of horror I had hoped we had left behind. I guess it was inevitable it would turn up on Blu-ray; I suppose there’s still an audience for it. If you ever really wanted to see a little girl menaced on camera and then hit over the head and tossed in the back of a car in a simulation of her murder then Poughkeepsie Tapes is the movie you’ve been waiting for. This film has nothing going on beyond fetishizing and glamorizing the beating, humiliation, and murder of women and girls.

Special Features include:

  • NEW interviews with writer/director John Erick Dowdle, writer/producer Drew Dowdle and actress Stacy Chbosky
  • Theatrical Trailer
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Adam RuhlWhat’s out on Blu-ray in October: Jackals, The Lure, Red Planet, The Poughkeepsie Tapes