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Paramount Scares Vol. 1            review by Bobby Blakey

For years the horror genre has been terrifying and captivating audiences through a wide variety of sub genres. Now Paramount is bringing their inaugural collection together aptly titled the Paramount Scares Vol. 1 collecting five of their horror films throughout their history. The films included range in tone and time including Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Pet Sematary (1989), Crawl (2019) and Smile (2022) all in glorious 4K.

 

These alone would be worth the collection, but it also offers up a mystery film that is making its debut on 4K for the first time ever with this collection. This new collection offers up all five of these movies in brand new cool slipcases inside an awesome collector’s box complete with boasts 

collectible items, including a Paramount Scares enamel pin, unique stickers, special features and an exclusive, full-size Fangoria magazine produced especially for the release.  This special edition of the celebrated publication “first in fright” since 1979—features a curated selection of new and classic articles from the magazine's archives.

Rosemary’s Baby follows young Catholic homemaker Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy who move into The Bramford: New York City's iconic building brimming with unpleasant stories of obscure dwellers and ghastly occurrences. Before long, the eccentric next-door neighbors Roman and Minnie Castevet befriend the young couple; shortly afterwards, Rosemary gets pregnant. However, as the inexperienced mother becomes systematically cut off from her circle of friends, alarming hints of a sinister, well-planned conspiracy start to emerge, enfolding timid Rosemary in a shroud of suspicion and mental agony.

 

This is one I have never been a big fan, but recognize its quality. It’s a great movie for the most part and at the time of its release no doubt offered up its shocking narrative to unsuspecting audiences. Sadly it is so slow paced for the most of the film it is hard to really get invested. The film works primarily thanks to a excellent performance from Farrow who carries the film on her shoulders. The rest of the cast are fine, but she is the reason this film works at all when it does.

 

While it does offer up compelling visuals and an engaging story at times it never really goes that extra mile to keep it as relevant to present audiences. It reminds me a lot of The Exorcist where as it is slow paced and not a lot going on for most of the film, but the final act brings it all to the forefront and entertains. The big reveal here is most excellent and the cast at this point are all top notch, but then the film just kind of ends leaving you feeling like we were cheated out of something to wrap it all up.

Pet Sematary follows young doctor, Louis Creed, and his family--his wife, Rachel, their daughter, Ellie, and their three-year-old toddler, Gage--move to their new home in the small rural town of Ludlow, Maine, alarmingly close to a busy highway. However, when Rachel's cherished tomcat is inadvertently killed in an awful accident, a desperate Louis will reluctantly take his friendly neighbor’s advice to bury it in an ancient Micmac graveyard--a mystical burial ground imbued with reanimating powers. 

I honestly haven’t sat down in quite some time to watch this and forgot home

much I loved it. After revisiting this horror classic it holds up really well all around. I forgot how gory it actually is and was instantly brought right back into the world of King’s masterpiece like I had been watching it every day. I have never sat down to read the book so never really knew too much about the story outside of this movie and I am so glad I got to revisit it with this new release.

The cast are all great with Fred Gwynne stealing the show for me. His southern drawl and every man persona was not only great but opposite than anything that I had seen him do and made him stand out. I admit that when seeing the trailer for the new film I instantly began to judge the entire film based on his “Sometimes dead is betta” line with John Lithgow delivering it to see if it was a worthy successor of the character. The effects hold up well and the overall tone is still creepy and great bringing this classic right back to the forefront

Crawl follows Haley who ignores evacuation orders to search for her missing father after a massive hurricane hits her Florida hometown. Finding him gravely injured in the crawl space of their family home, the two become trapped by quickly encroaching floodwaters. As time runs out to escape the strengthening storm, Haley and her father discover that the rising water level is the least of their fears. I was already excited to see this film strictly due to Aja’s involvement, but add to the mix gators on a rampage I knew it had potential to be something fun and I was not wrong.

 

This is a tight fun and intense horror/action flick that works all around. The premise and set up works perfectly and entertains from beginning to end. Once we get passed the initial set up and the two leads together it is a fast paced ride right until the end. There are a few other people popping in and out, but this film is all on the shoulders of Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper. They both have great chemistry together bringing the needed relationship as father and daughter together as well as they terror they have to endure.

 

There are a few jump moments, but thankfully it’s not played up for so much of that element and instead its man vs. beast right out the gate. They do some great things with the gators and loved that they kept a more realistic approach with them instead of going some monstrous route. They are great fun to watch in every way and my only complaint is that it wasn’t longer to see more of them. You do have to suspend some disbelief in relation to the injuries that people get and there are a ton of them, some bloodier than the next, but they still make some smart choices to keep it as real as possible.

Smile follows Dr. Rose Cotter, whose life and sanity start to unravel after a patient commits suicide in front of her.  Everything starts to spiral out of control as she begins to see the smile everywhere she looks and nothing is ever as it seems.  The spiral continues as she begins to investigate the girl’s suicide and the events that eventually led her to Rose.  As she digs deeper, trying to not only prove to everyone around her that she isn’t crazy, but to save her own life, demons from her past come charging in as well.

 

Rose is played by Sosie Bacon, and this is her movie.  She does an amazing job portraying her descent into madness.  Her expressions and body language pull you into what she’s going through and helps really drive the experience home.  

 

The rest of the cast, not so much.  Jessie T Usher and Kal Penn seem completely out of place here.  Neither is given much to do, and that’s really a good thing since they

both just seem so miscast.  Robin Weigert does a good job as Rose’s former psychiatrist, and Kyle Gallner lends some emotional support as Rose’s former love interest and the one she turns to for help investigating the suicide, but Bacon is given the heaviest load to carry, and she does it wonderfully.

 

The real star here might be the score and sound.  This is definitely a theater movie, or one that needs to be watched with a decent sound system at home.  Whispers and other strange noises and mis-directs come from all around, and the discordant score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer is almost a character of its own. As far as the movie and the story, there’s nothing new here, but it does some original things that keep it engaging for its almost two hour run time.  You’ll feel the inspiration from some other well-known films here that were meshed together to try for something different.  There’s plenty of jump scares and some very creepy visuals.  It is a slow burn at times as the story pushes forward, but the director never lets it go for too long without something popping up

While I am sure we can speak of the mystery film included in this set now with he release I am opting to not reveal what it is and hope that fans will get the set and be surprised as well. What I can tell you is that it is a musical in the horror-esque genre and will have you craving pies when all said and done.

 

This set is outstanding all on its own with each of the films not only in glorious high def 4K, but with all the bonus content, Fangoria Magazine and collector’s pin along with he mystery film hitting 4K for the first time, just takes it to the next level. With it being called volume 1 I can only hope this if the first of many to come.

 

Grab your copy of the limited edition Paramount Scares Volume 1 available now from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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