Anchor Bay has long been a proponent of bells and whistles—from stellar transfers and special features to innovative packaging. From their wicked Wicker Man wooden box set to their Evil Dead: Book of the Dead packaging, which featured a replica of the famed Necronomicon ex mortis book from the film as the display case, Anchor Bay has always known how to catch a consumer’s eye.
And they’ve done it again with their Campy Classics Fright Pack, a six pack of guilty pleasures packaged inside a chromium box made to look like a six pack of beer—complete with carrying handle.
In case you’ve never seen any of these classics, here’s a brief rundown:
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
Hands down the funniest film in the pack, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark follows the scantily clad Goth goddess as she ventures to a rural New England town to claim her inheritance after her aunt passes away. Essentially ninety minutes of sexual innuendo, Mistress of the Dark is a campy bag of fun squeezed into a DVD.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes
Wackiness – a pejorative in my book – ensues when a mad scientist, played by John Astin, develops a machine to transform tomatoes, outlawed since the Great Tomato War (depicted in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes), into humans. Then, when a hot woman/tomato he developed for blah blah blah George Clooney blah blah blah. This movie isn’t very good. Although it does boast some clever jokes, there’s far too much winking at the camera; it gets to a point where the winking becomes a full on epileptic fit. Fun only if you watch it in half hour increments. Excruciating if you watch it in one sitting.
Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr. play tabloid journalists sent to Transylvania to investigate Frankenstein after a home video is sent to their office revealing the legendary creature roaming the countryside. Once in the town of Vlad, they encounter a sex obsessed vampire (Geena Davis), the town’s wily Mayor (Jeffrey Jones), his lunatic butler (Michael Richards), the wolfman, and a schizoid scientist—amongst other colorful characters. Transylvania 6-5000 boasts some fantastic comic pieces, and Ed Begley, Jr. proves surprisingly adept at delivering funny, Vaudeville-esque zingers. This is what camp is all about.
Return to Horror High
The second of two movies in this pack featuring George Clooney—though he has a truncated role in this film—Return to Horror High documents the making of a low-budget psychological thriller cum blood fest shot in Crippen High School, the scene of several grisly murders a few years earlier. The killer was never apprehended, and when members of the crew begin to turn up missing, it’s feared that the killer has resurfaced, and is picking off those there to fictionalize the story of his original rampage. Return to Horror High is a fun movie that sustains itself fairly well until the third act, when everything quickly falls apart, and the filmmakers find themselves in a situation in which they’re too eager to trick the audience, and unable to find a way out. Still, a fun movie that deserves to be called camp.
Now this movie rocks. Set in a summer camp where kids begin to die mysteriously, some eyes turn to red herring suspects while other eyes remain fixed on teenage melodramatic BS. Sleepaway Camp is a fantastic low budget whodunit that boasts the greatest surprise ending this reviewer has ever seen. This is definitely the highlight of this pack.
Things quickly go awry in this funny little epic about three fraternity pledges who go to a strip club to try to lure the strippers back to their fraternity and discover that the strip club, and the town in which it’s located, is populated with vampires. Vamp is a fun romp picking the best parts of 80’s teenage sex comedies and old school slasher flicks and marring them to create a fun ride with plenty of nearly naked vampires. Seriously, what’s better than hot stripper vampires?
The second of two Fright Packs – the first featuring Devil themed movies such as The Antichrist and Fear No Evil – Campy Classics encases all six movies, which come in individual clamshell cases complete with artwork and inserts. The packaging is as tongue-in-cheek and as campy as the films it encapsulates; this reviewer had more fun watching these six movies – all previously unseen by him, er, me – that he, er, I have had in a long time. When watching heavy intellectual indie and foreign films begins to weigh on you after a while, it’s nice to be able to rely on distributors like Anchor Bay – the Criterion of B movies, although they do put out truly brilliant movies such as Werner Herzog’s amazing catalogue – for a slice of good old fashioned cheese.