BOX SET BONANZA!!!

In response to the overwhelming numbers of “Box Sets” pouring out of the studios, we here at EYECRAVEDVD have decided to take things to a new level by introducing a new column which I am tentatively calling BOXSET BONANZA!!!This new column will be dedicated to Box Sets and we DVD-Zillas who love them.That having been said…What do you get when you mix a cult of English Vampires, murderous smalltown teens, and a comatose matricidal maniac?You get three trippy and atmospheric Australian horror films presented together by one of the best genre labels around.I hereby inaugurate our newest column by presenting you with…THE AUSSIE HORROR COLLECTION from the good folks at Elite Entertainment!! PATRICK(1978)* After violently murdering his mother and her lover, young Patrick lays comatose in a small private hospital. When a pretty young urse, just separated from her husband, begins working at the hospital, she senses that Patrick is trying to communicate with her while others in her life are being killed in most mysterious ways. THIRST (1979)* She was innocent, pure and unsuspecting. But now, Kate Davis has been kidnapped by a bloodthirsty cult and taken to a remote village. Once there, she discovers her fate. According to the prophecies of the Hyma Brotherhood, she must fulfill her destiny by marrying their leader and helping them quench their diabolical thirst for blood. STRANGE BEHAVIOUR (1981)* A brutal serial killer begins a terrifying campaign targeting local teens. Officer John Brady is drawn to the high school’s psychology department where he suspects he will find the killer. There is something sinister about the department’s research into behavioral control and Brady is determined to uncover it.Let us start at the beginning, shall we? When Director Richard Franklin unleashed PATRICK in 1978, it became an instant cult hit, garnered rave reviews, awards from several festivals, and kickstarted an Aussie horror boom that continued on through films like THIRST and led to US/Australian hybrids like STRANGE BEHAVIOUR (the review for which can be found here).Patrick is still effective as a chilling thriller, and despite some decidedly 70’s décor, the film has aged quite impressively. The direction is taut, and compensates well for a thinly-stretched plot. The acting is good on most counts, and includes Aussie luminaries like Bruce Barry, Julia Blake and Walter Pym (who also appears in THIRST). Robert Thompson, who plays the catatonic, yet infinitely intimidating Patrick also appears in THIRST. Thompson somehow imbues Patrick with a seething menace, without moving, gesticulating or displaying any emotion at all until the final moments of the film. Also interesting to note, is that the almighty QT seems to have cribbed at least one bit from this film for KILL BILL. Patrick is a “spitter” and continuously hawks one in people’s faces throughout the film. Susan Penhaligon, who plays the nurse, Kathy Jaquard, is an outstanding actress with much experience before and after PATRICK, who takes a stereotypical female genre role and fills it with energy, personality and fire. She stole the show for me, and I look forward to checking out some of her other work. Available seperately or in this set, PATRICK shines on Elite Disc. The picture quality is decent, and while not pristine, it is better than I have ever seen it before. The 1.78:1 Widescreen transfer is as good as can be expected for a low budget thriller from the late 70’s. The sound mix, while not phenomenal, is more than ample, and gives a good show of the Bernard Herrmann-esque soundtrack by Brian May and those infamous Argento faves The Goblins. Extras include Spanish and French dub tracks, commentary from Richard Franklin (who spares no opportunity to point out his various influences), filmographies, trailers and an easter egg. Most notable for genre fans is that this is the original, uncut, European version that was never shown in the US, and clocks in at 112 minutes. While it may not be Hitchcock, PATRICK has more than it’s share of chills and thrills.Next on the list is the truly baffling, yet oddly unsettling THIRST. Directed by future TV stalwart and one-time X-FILES lenser Rod Hardy, THIRST is the story of Kate Davis who, to all outward appearances, is an average woman of the 70’s. After being abducted by a group of seemingly civilized and quite polite cultists, Kate discovers that she is the direct descendant of historical figure Countess Elizabeth Bathory, said to be the true inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and accused of having bathed in the blood of virgins to prolong her youth. Things then proceed to get weirder and weirder, and in a downward spiral of schizophrenic mayhem and disjointed reality, we soon come to realize that Kate has been kidnapped by Vampires. Not only are these Vampires into satanic ritual sacrifice and torture for shits and giggles, but they keep a farm of healthy (though anemic) young humans to supply their favorite bevvies. Peopled with such names as David Hemmings and the always tremendous Henry Silva, THIRST belongs entirely to its leading lady, Chantal Contouri. Never has feverish confusion and panicked desperation looked so good. PATRICK stars Robert Thompson and Walter Pym also put in small but memorable roles and the cast as a whole does a good job of dealing with a script that bounces around like a 12 year-old Goth on Sugar Smacks. The 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer is beautiful, with rich deep colors throughout, and only betrays its age during final scenes with cheezy dayglo eyeball effects. The sound is equally well rendered, and Brian May returns with another original take on the potboiler score. This one even comes complete with an isolated score track. Other extras include a Spanish dub track, filmographies, a photo gallery and trailers and TV spots. Last, but certainly not least, is Michael Laughlin’s STRANGE BEHAVIOUR. While I’ve already given a full review of this title, which you can find here, it still warrants a few words in this article. Starting with the writing, Oscar winner Bill Condon (who wrote CHICAGO among many other things) and director, co-writer Michael Laughlin give us a story about a sleepy Illinois town where a nefarious brainwashing program turns good kids into murderous zombies. It’s American Gothic gothic. Without knowing it was filmed in Australia, by an Aussie crew and director, you would never know it was not filmed on location in rural Americana. And while PATRICK and THIRST share many of the same actors, the same composer, and much of the same crew, the only thing linking them to STRANGE BEHAVIOUR is the country it was filmed in, and the ubiquitous producer Antony I. Ginnane (who produced all three films and 50-some others). STRANGE BEHAVIOUR is easily the most mainstream of the three films, but is also the most atmospheric and the most suspenseful. Music by Tangerine Dream enhances the film so much that it is almost as effective with the isolated score track as it is with the full sound mix. The acting is top-notch from American stars like Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher and young leading man Dan Shor (most memorable as Billy The Kid in BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE) along with Aussie thespian Arthur Dingham and the sultry British vixen Fiona Lewis, who melts celluloid as a saucy dominatrix/nurse. Elite’s 2.35:1 Anamorphic transfer is head and shoulders above the other two titles and is virtually flawless, Louis Horvath’s lighting and camera work is exquisite for such a low-budget shocker, and many a scene is as beautiful as anything you have ever seen in a Hollywood blockbuster. Extras include U.S. and Aussie trailers (including one with the original US title “DEAD KIDS”), an Elite trailer gallery, 2 deleted scenes, filmographies, commentary from Bill Condon, Dan Shor and leading lady Dey Young, a Spanish dub and the aforementioned isolated score track.. All in all a very sweet package.Elite has astounded us many times before, from the pure genius of the DRIVE-IN DISC Collection to the Camp hilarity of JOE BOB BRIGGS PRESENTS and to the magnificence of their MILLENIUM EDITION line. This 3-Disc set is definitely worthy of that pantheon, and of any horror fans collection. And it is also a worthy kickoff to our new column.Until the next collection…

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