Scrounging around in the depths of the 70’s horror vaults in the hopes of unearthing some long forgotten treasures Arrow Video having previously discovered some gems in Volume One, now put together a second edition of their American Horror Project for a whole new generation to enjoy. Proving that this is truly a labour of love, they’ve scoured every nook and cranny of the horror world to rediscover those obscure little low budget movies made during the no-budget boom years of the late 60’s and early 70’s where anybody who owned a camera and a couple of bucks had aspirations of movie making. Sure there were some stinkers along the way, but there was a lot of unearthed gold. And now, for the first time on BluRay, we get to see these movies in all their fiduciary limited glory.
First up is Dream No Evil by John Hayes, a director more well known for Grave Of The Vampire. It’s a slow builder with underlying lessons in child neglect, as a young woman longing to find her long lost father is drawn into a nightmarish scenario of utter chaos. Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire,)a bonafide Academy Award winner pops up in Dark August in a the tale of a man who runs over a young girl in the countryside and is cursed by the girls grandfather. The small town feel of this movie gives it a real claustrophobic and uneasy feel, the sort of vibe that Stephen King would be mastering very soon. The horror element is ramped up when a dark figure keeps appearing to him. A ghost, or something even more terrible? It’s a crime that this movie hasn’t achieved more recognition over the years. Beautifully played out and genuinely chilling, I’d put this against any film of the same period. Finally, in my mind there’s nothing creepier in horror than children. So playing upon my fears is The Child from 1977. The weaker of the three movies, but still great entertainment, a young girl is hell-bent on avenging her mother’s murder. What better way than to raise the dead, with almost no exposition, and use them against her mother’s killers? Yep it’s a zombie movie which hasn’t aged well, but a few tweaks here and there might have seen it get more attention than it did. Definitely worth a watch.
There’s really not much to work with, in terms of remastering the movies but Arrow have done a sterling job in their presentation. The extras provide throw up some archive footage and new audio commentary providing insight into the restoration and there’s a fascinating 60 page booklet that accompanies the set, but the real gold here, is the rediscovery of Dark August. That alone is worth the price of this great set, which any self respecting horror fan should now be looking at adding to their collection... Chris Andrews