Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Johnny California: Halloween Wish List

 by JB

The month of October and the coming of Halloween means boatloads of new releases in the magical land of physical media.

Besides decorating my home with horror movie stuff and pumpkins to an even greater extent than my home is ALWAYS decorated with horror movie stuff and pumpkins, October brings with it lots of spinning disc goodness. The major studios (They, who are shooting themselves in the foot on a daily basis with this f’ing strike bullshit) smell money to be made from horror-obsessed folks who crave their daily dose of High-Def Scary. The studios’ gain is our gain. This is an embarrassment of riches. What follows COULD easily be used by my friends and family to buy me completely unmotivated “love gifts” throughout the coming months.

Take the hint, Frank.

September 19

The Exorcist 4K ($24)
Cocaine Bear 4K ($25)

My favorite horror film of all time (Why do you think I NEVER have written about it?) and the crazy film that might have been the most fun I’ve had in a theater this year... both arrive in brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers in 4K. I can’t wait to see both of them again. This might just be the craziest double feature you program for Scary Move Month. HINT: Watch Cocaine Bear first.

September 26
The Giant Gila Monster/Killer Shrews (Film Masters Special Edition) ($20)

Two of my favorite low-budget '50s drive-in films arrive on a double feature disc from new label Film Masters. THRILL to teenage lead Don Sullivan as “Chase Winstead” crooning self-penned rock and roll nuggets (“My Baby, She Rocks” and “The Mushroom Song”) while hammering out a quarter panel in his father’s auto shop!

“My baby, she rocks and rolls... and rocks whenever she walks.
My baby, she rocks and rolls... and rocks whenever she talks.

My baby’s a rock-n-rolling, tippy-toeing, never-knowing, always glowing baby!
My baby, she swings and sings, and swings whenever I bring her things.
She swings and sings, and swings for little diamond rings...
Swinging, singing, bells are ringing, happy-flinging, pleasure-bringing baby!

My baby, she rocks and rolls...and rocks whenever she walks.
My baby, she swings and sings, and swings whenever I bring her things.
A rock-n-rolling, tippy-toeing, never-knowing, always glowing...
Swinging, singing, bells are ringing, happy-flinging, pleasure-bringing baby!”

Or as the MST3K crew would later croon, “We sing whenever we sing, whenever we sing!”

THRILL to a real Gila monster ripping through real miniature cardboard sets! THRILL to writer/director Ray Kellogg cheerfully ripping off almost every element of The Blob, released just the year before!

THRILL to dogs wearing furry RUGS and fanged MASKS to turn them into the titular GIANT SHREWS. (I keep waiting for some adventuresome theater group or a big budget Broadway producer to present The Killer Shrews as a stage play. The whole movie practically takes place in one room.) This one is a must buy. The only way Film Masters could have made a perfect hat trick out of this new disc would have been to somehow include The Giant Leeches as a bonus feature.

October 3

The Mist 4K ($23)
Universal Classic Monsters Mega-Set 4K ($130)
Universal Monsters 4K Singles ($20 a piece)
It Came from Outer Space, Universal Essentials Collection, 4K ($34)
Don’t Look Now 4K Criterion Collection ($35)
Psycho Boxset ($114)

The feel-good movie of 2007, the beloved Universal Monsters in a big box or in little single servings, Universal’s first big 3-D Sci-Fi Hit in a Special Edition with swag, Nicholas Roeg’s horror masterpiece, and Alfred Hitchcock’s pean to the restorative effects of a good, hot shower all arrive in 4K, just four weeks to the day before Halloween!

One of my favorite little communications on the Twitter machine this year involved Ross, eagle-eyed F This Movie fan, asking me, if I sprang for the new 4K All-In-One, how MANY TIMES WOULD IT BE that I have bought the same Universal Monsters films on physical media? Gee. 130 smackers for movies that I’ve bought up to eight times in the past in various formats?

I could use that money for cocaine to give the bear!

October 10
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 4K ($25)
Rosemary’s Baby 4K ($20)
Videodrome 4K Criterion Collection ($35)
Dickshark ($25)

Three certified classics making their 4K debuts... and Dickshark. That crazy crap and I go way back, to the 2017 Flashback Weekend Horror Convention when our own Adam Riske bought me a copy off a dealer’s table and dared me to watch it. He joked that when I spun the disc for the first time, that was the film’s gala premiere. I went in expecting dumb fun... and left after an interminable 150 minutes, after which I was a little less alive. (Almost half the film is in slow motion. I am not joking.)

The film was later re-released in edited form as Frankenshark. This new release advertises itself as “The 2-Disc Collector’s Edition.” The mind boggles.

P.T. Barnum would be proud.

October 17
Freaks (Tod Browning’s Sideshow Shockers) Criterion Collection ($50)
The Blob 4K ($30)

Criterion serves up this famous piece of sleaze (MGM was so horrified by it, they let another studio release it.) plus two other carnival-set Browning pictures as their little “Trick or Treat” present to genre fans! If that weren’t enough for one New Release Tuesday, Patrick’s favorite version of Attack of the Pink Jello-Mold finally arrives in 4K.

Blub. Blub. One of Us. One of Us. Gooble-gobble. Gooble-gobble.


October 24

Cujo 4K ($25)
The Others 4K Criterion Collection ($35)
Black Sabbath AIP Edition ($18)
Beast from Haunted Cave/Ski Troop Attack (Film Masters Special Edition) ($20)

After all the exciting releases this month (and an actual Halloween Tuesday with no notable horror releases) I can’t help but regard this date as leftovers. I’d rather have these films in spiffy new editions than not... I’m just not as excited for them as for some of the new releases from earlier in the month.

Wait a minute—if I skip buying these four, that would add up to another $100 bucks I could devote to the new Universal Monsters 4K set... you know... for the exact same films that I have already purchased in other formats twelve or fifteen times, or... MORE COCAINE FOR THE BEAR.

It’s going to be a great Scary Movie Month, friends and readers.


  1. any shopping list that includes Universal Monsters (4k) and a few titles later, D@ckshark....welp its obviously curated for me. LOL!!!

    Great stuff buddy! Also makes me 4x giddier for Scary Movie Month...or should i say 4K GIDDIER!!!! #i-see-what-i-did-there #we-know-what-you-did-there-last-summer

  2. Any list with Snow White and D***shark together is worth checking out

    You're costing me money dude

  3. On second thought, maybe Snow White and Dickshark is the ultimate Scary Movie Month double feature!

  4. Now that you are in sunny California, does celebrating Halloween feel different?

    The Mist was a watch last October. Such a great ending. That Tod Browning collection should be good. I have pondered getting a set of the full Universal Studios horror cycle. Maybe one of these days it will happen.

    So many interesting titles are getting releases next month. And the next month. And the next month. With a diminishing budget for physical media this year, I am not even close to keeping up with what I would like to have.

  5. In a lot of ways and for many reasons, it ALWAYS feels like Halloween in California… (Lots of rep. theaters showing horror, Halloweentown and Dark Delicacies being open year round, the fact that I am now a vampire)