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The Fly Collection (Blu-ray Review)

There have been sets made of The Fly films in the past. However, those were limited to just the eras. The old The Fly films stuck together and the two from the 1980s teamed up for double feature discs. But, never has the whole encompassing world of The Fly been available in one big collection…UNTIL NOW. Scream Factory has put together an impressive set for this holiday season with all five movies about transportation and screwing it up for yourself and the lives of others. This impressive collection features a load of all new bonus material interviews as well as the Blu-ray debut of the third film, The Curse of The Fly. And in true Scream Factory fashion, it comes in impressive packaging for all of us movie shelf display showoffs everywhere. Pre-order to receive when it arrives on December 10th!

The Fly (1958)

When scientist Andre Delambre (Al Hedison) tests his matter transporter on himself, an errant housefly makes its way into the transportation chamber, and things go horribly wrong. As a result, Delambre’s head and arm are now that of the insect. Slowly losing himself to the fly, Delambre turns to his wife, Helene (Patricia Owens), for help. But when tragedy strikes, Delambre’s brother (Vincent Price) and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) are forced to pick up the investigation.

It isn’t until the big reveal of the titular monster that the original The Fly ever feels any sort of “dated” feeling to it, which comes as a big surprise when returning to this radioactive era horror classic. For the most part, The Fly is a bit of intrigue, mystery and sort of a little bit of haunted house horror. Of course its a big play on the whole mad scientist subgenre overall, but it does hit those other touchstones so very well.

The Fly is a twisted tale with a pretty solid Twilight Zone-like influence. The movie is also a patient one, taking the narrative so far and then heading itself backward for flashbacks before moving forward to the end. Vincent Price adds his gravitas to it, but just as a major supporting character, not the lead, not the villain. If you’re able to suspend disbelief, respect the times in which the film was made (I know its hard for some to realize a movie made in 1959 may look like a movie made in 1959), you’ll find it quite excellent and holding on strong even 60 years later.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Just a heads up, not only is the transfer for the original The Fly the same one used on the original release, the authoring of the disc is relatively the same. Just a few touches here and there (Some audio/subtitles have been removed, a commentary added), but otherwise the same disc. The picture quality is quite terrific with a great saturation of color, crisp images and lots of fine details abound. The only soft spots occur during a visual or optical effect taking place onscreen, and due to the nature of producing that back in the 1950s, its likely always to remain a bit fuzzy.

Depth:  This carries a pretty classic cinematic look and all of the interior sets feel a nice pushback from the depth of field with characters roaming pretty freely in the open space. Motion is smooth and natural with no distracting motion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and nonconsuming. Details run pretty rampant on dark clothing and hair. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty gorgeous and have that very technicolor kind of appearance to them.  Especially when we see the humanoid fly in all its glory it shine with some nice greens that are well saturated with many different shades pouring through.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are better nuanced the closer the character appears to the screen, obviously.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 4.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Fly carries over its playful 4.0 track from the previous edition. This crisp track is open an airy really allowing a free space for the action to behold. Its quite well balanced too, featuring the vocals, score and effects to work perfectly in tandem with one another.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The low end is probably the weak point of the mix, but there are solid moments and bumps time to time.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix plays and play with its 4 channel offering. Between fun motioning around the room, it also carries a wondrous sense of ambition and some striking moments from a random off corner to give a nice jolt or realized feeling of being in the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very clear and crisp and at the forefront of the film, so naturally the mix warmly call attention to it as being key in many scenes.

Return Of The Fly (1959)

Phillipe Delambre wants to finish and perfect the work his father had done.  His father, being the man who created an atom transporter and unsuccessfully mixed his makeup with that of a fly.  Francois, Phillipe’s uncle refuses to help, but when funds run out for Phillipe he agrees to help finance the rest of it.  Little does Phillipe know that there is some foul play going on among his researchers as one is an industrial spy looking to steal his secrets and is willing to kill to accomplish his goal.

This second Fly film kind of reminds me of Rocky II in terms of being a sequel.  It feels like its here to make the “happier” ending for those who weren’t satisfied with the more glum or lowered satisfaction/success of the original’s ending.  A lot of this is just new details and a couple different avenues taken that sort of mask the same sort of goal as the first film had.  In an odd choice, this film is now in black and white when the first one was in color.  But the sets seem to look similar from what I could tell.

However, like Rocky II, this one is a pretty solid and good film in its own right.  It takes the concept of the first one and goes a little beyond it.  This story is no longer a flashback, so we really don’t know where its going to end up by the time it ends.  We also have more characters and a outside source of villainy in addition to our tragic Fly monster.  While this film may not move as well as the first one and lacks the suspense and intrigue, its still a pretty good grounded 50s monster movie.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Return of The Fly was previously released by Scream Factory in the second Vincent Price Collection set. Here, it appears they have used the same transfer and audio, just adding a couple new commentaries. This is a softer image, that looks a bit too smooth.  Detail is very light.  The fly creature itself does look pretty impressive as well as the lab when its well lit.  This source they got the transfer on doesn’t look like it provided much to begin with though.

Depth:  Average.  There are some scenes outdoor that feature a good amount of dimensional work.  Most of it is in tight indoor spaces.

Black Levels:  Blacks a pretty rich and graying.  There is some crushing and detail is a little harder to make out on people and items featuring the color.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a nice haunting, artistic grey/white flare to them that feels almost like what someone making a “vintage” movie now would aim for. Facial details and textures are pretty impressive from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Specs throughout and a heavier layer of grain than the other black and white films in this set.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Audio pretty much just does the trick.  It features good balance between score, voice and effects.  Its not incredibly intricate but does have some great moments with the score taking charge.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clean.

The Curse Of The Fly (1965)

Scantily clad Patricia Stanley (Carole Gray) breaks out of a mental hospital and is picked up by passing motorist Martin Delambre (George Baker). The two do not reveal much about themselves to each other, but nevertheless decide to get married. At the Delambre family mansion, Patricia meets Martin’s father, Henri (Brian Donlevy), an eccentric scientist. Snooping about the grounds, she discovers evidence of the family’s strange experiments in teleportation and the grisly results thereof.

The Curse of The Fly is an odd little movie, but it has its own charms and a unique flavor to it. It doesn’t offer much in terms of Fly escapades but moreso the “curse” aspect as it touches upon in the title. The science and teleportation from the first two films is what is on display here, not so much “guy slowly turns into human fly” aspect. But, in order to know its a part of that series, you gotta stick it on the title so I get it.

Setting up the film’s characters is quite adorable. Crazy hooking up with crazy at random. Its a little bit of a Twilight Zone upon Twilight Zone play. In addition to the mad scientist hook, this one also offers up a house of horrors angle, as well as carnival of monsters injection that really gives this movie its own identity. One could argue that this one could easily get away with not being a Fly movie, but I really like that its a bit more of a “world inspired by The Fly” than a direct sequel. This one really found the key to opening up the series to more entries like the way Amityville found a way to do those outside of the house. Its honestly pretty fun and while it lacks Vincent Price’s gravitas which were a big plus on the original 2, its a much more fun watching than the second film.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Curse of The Fly debuts on Blu-ray with what I’m guessing is an existing HD master. No information on a transfer is available in the set, nor the press release. At the very most a 2K transfer. And honestly, it looks pretty good. The print has a little patch or two here and there that is rougher, but nothing all too distracting. There is a nice layer of grain left intact. Details are solid with a decently sharp, crisp picture overall.

Depth:  Depth of field is solid and a little above average. Characters and camera motions are smoothly processed through the image with no distortions being super apparent.

Black Levels: Blacks are leaning more toward natural than on the lighter end. They carry a heavier layer of grain in the darker corners of the frame. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones find a consistent white/grey that adheres throughout the length of the film. Details aren’t the strongest when not in a close up, but don’t distract from being too smooth either.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Curse of The Fly has a solid mono track that doesn’t prove spectacular, but gets the job done for a pleasant, retro viewing. There is an analog hiss present in the source, but its not distracting. The action in the film with the score and big sound effects do work good in tandem to present the more intense sequences in the film, even if they are without strong LFE sounds.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and plenty audible with a slight analog hiss as mentioned in the overall mix.

The Fly (1986)

When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation, but the fly’s cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle’s girlfriend (Geena Davis) is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster.

David Cronenberg’s masterpiece, The Fly, is a first-class bitch slap to those who always moan about remakes. Its the one that shows us how great they can be when you allow an artist to find a vision, and who understands the material in a way to push it to a modern time or another level. Cronenber’s The Fly, cited alongside with John Carpenter’s The Thing are so powerful that you rarely ever hear people discussing it with the word “remake” attached or even dissect it as a remake itself.

1986’s update on The Fly does quite a few things. First and foremost, it adds a layer of body horror by way of elite practical effects. The script and effects team really come together to fully realize this nightmare and have a gooey good time in doing so. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis also elevate this to make this world and people involved so fully realized that you even buy into some of the most ridiculous parts of it. A Cronenberg isn’t afraid to be silly or allow the film to find humor in its terror to build on your emotions in a stealthy strangulation.

Another aspect Cronenberg adds, is his ability for being in the 1980s, to go open those doors that were hinted but locked shut in the 1950s. He’s able to tell the story and dig deeper on a more steamier and personal level. There is plenty of sex to add an erotic angle to all of the body horror proceedings. An additional examination to go with the just the surface look of the character. And if you’re familiar with Cronenberg, this is always par for the course, fitting with him, but also showing why he was the perfect filmmaker for this project.

The Fly’s remake is ultimately the best film of the entire set and one of the best horror films of the 1980s (And all time depending on who you ask). And it still holds up to this day. There may be kinks with the original film due to limitations of its time, but Cronenberg’s suffers no fault. It just now takes place in the 1980s instead of being modern as it was back then. Its pretty flawless and continues to thrive over 30 years later.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: There are no indicators to say that this isn’t the same release as was done by Fox already on Blu-ray. Since the original was the same (As well as the recent release of Big Trouble In Little China, also a Fox title), then it would be fair to assume this is no different. And to my eyes, its a pretty solid transfer that wouldn’t hurt to see a an upgrade, but is fine as it is with some standout moments. There is a nice layer of grain that helps keeps details intact and plenty of texture and definition protrudes easily through every frame.

Depth:  Depth of field features some solid spacing between the foreground and background as well as characters and objects appearing freely in the frame. This doesn’t have some wild 3 dimensional feel to it, but it is quite fluid. Movement is natural, cinematic in feel, and features no motion distortions in any of the more rapid action oriented sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and close to natural. They carry a bit heftier bunch of grain. Details do not disappear too much in the shadows as hair follicles and patterns/textures of fabric come through. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors feature a nice saturated blend of natural regulars and some flashy 80s. Some standout stuff that pops come from the computer screens as well as lighting with the transporters. Some of the goo in the movie, and blood have a nice pop to them as well.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the duration of the film. Facial features and textures fair very well in medium and close up shots. The ins and outs of the Goldblum in flyform shows much of the intricacies of the legendary makeup design.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The Fly contains the same 5.1 mix as previously featured on Blu-ray. You’ll find it playful, well balanced and  layered to some impressive and effective degrees I wish it would have just a hair more”oompf” to some of its lower moments, but what it has does work out just fine.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Shotgun blasts, loud science sounds, crashing, punches and more give a nice support bump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a pretty active mix for when it was made and features fun little nuances, intricacies and travel throughout the five channels.

Dialogue Reproduction:Vocals are clear and crisp, pretty up front and audible no matter how loud a sequence finds itself.

The Fly II (1989)

Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), the CEO of a research laboratory, acts as the self-appointed guardian of orphan Martin Brundle, whose father had been a researcher at the lab. Though Martin is scarcely five, he has the appearance of a 20-year-old (Eric Stoltz) because of mutant insectoid genes in his system. Martin grows up confined to the laboratory, unaware of his true nature, with only pretty scientist Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga) to call a friend. Soon, the fly within begins to emerge.

I find it interesting that both sequels to respective Flies happened to take a similar route. Granted, this was clearly something left out there from the remake, but they both explore the Son of The Fly type of storyline. And in The Fly II, we see the song as a child and growing up under the custody of scientific research, we have the tale of him finally getting to explore a world beyond and finding out about his father and true past. The film also decides to go younger, maybe hipper, with the leads. And while both are not bad, there is a big gap between the type of stuff Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum were bringing in the previous film and what Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga (Fine enough performers in their own right) can bring to The Fly II.

The Fly II is far from a perfect film, but its kind of a very enjoyable bad film. Its not boringly average. The film has some terrific ideas and narrative choices, but is a bit clumsy in its production and the way it goes about doing the things it wants to do. Though maybe just a half step down, it also retains some terrific effects and make-up work to try and honor what happened with Cronenberg’s film. And that’s part of what makes it fun is getting to see some fresh gore and goop. And one difference in this stuff utilized is that maybe this movie takes itself a little too seriously and doesn’t allow the fun and weird that the previous movie was carefree about. Regardless, its still “all right” in my book, and one I don’t mind returning to time to time.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I cannot speak to whether or not the transfer of this film equates to the Via Vision release in Australia from not too long ago. I can say that the overall transfer feels a bit comparable to the Cronenberg film, but just a hair softer, maybe due to the production’s lighting scheme. Details are solid and the overall presentation is a pleasant one.

Depth:  Some solid background and foreground spacing on display here. Motion is smooth, cinematic and carries no issues with distortion during rapid action.

Black Levels: Features a similar look to the blacks as the Cronenberg movie, with heavier grain and a slight smokey room feel.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors hang on a more natural appeal due to the nature of the film. Lighting really gives most of the pop. Though the level of tints and shades of green are pretty impressive when it comes to the creature in the film.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and keep a consistent look during the entirety of the film. Close-ups show more fine texture, but a lot of the medium shots showcase details as well. Goopy monster effect make-up holds up well doesn’t reveal any loose strings in this high definition look.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Fly II comes with a 5.1 track that feels right at home with the first film. They have synergy to them, though this one is just a hair louder and more impactful. The balanced mix features that extra oompf I mentioned I wanted from the remake.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Low end stuff does well with crashing, explosions and “science” stuff to add a nice little thud to things.

Surround Sound Presentation: This one is pretty fun and does a lot in places to add to the room with loud ambiance and unique sounds for the rear channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

The Fly Collection is 5-disc set with each film coming in its own standard Blu-ray amaray case. The cases are then housed in a hard shell container.

The Fly (1958)

Audio Commentary

  • With actor David Hedison and film historian David Del Valle
  • With author Steve Haberman and film historian Constantine Nasr

Biography: Vincent Price (1997) (SD, 44:03)

Fly Trap: Catching A Classic (SD, 11:30)

Fox Movietone News (SD, :54)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:59)

Return of The Fly (1959)

Audio Commentary

  • With actor David Frankham
  • With author/film historian Tom Weaver
  • With actor Brett Halsey and film historian David Del Valle

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:38)

TV Spot (SD, 1:03)

Still Gallery (HD, 1:51)

The Curse of The Fly (1965)

Audio Commentary

  • With author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr

Interview With Actress Mary Manson (HD, 7:38) – The actress tells of being offered the part at a dinner party and goes into the process of her face prosthetic which took “ages and ages” to do. We hear all about making the face casting and troubles to breathe and the typical stuff that comes with that.

Interview With Continuity Renee Glynne (HD, 5:22) – She doesn’t really talk much of the film, but does plead a sincere regret for leaving Hammer at the dawn of their Gothic Horror phase as she felt above it at the time.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:05)

TV Spot (SD, 1:03)

Still Gallery (HD, 2:04)

The Fly (1986)

Audio Commentary

  • With director David Cronenberg
  • With author William Beard

Interviews

  • The Meshuggener Scientist (HD, 13:26) – An interview with executive producer Mel Brooks. “Did I like horror films? Mostly Frankensteins. Anything Frankenstein I liked.” Brooks is shot some questions regarding the genre, himself, Goldblum and his role in working on The Fly remake.
  • Beauty and the Beast (HD, 22:49) – An interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld.  A lover of Cocteau’s Beauty and The Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he speaks on how they profoundly affected him (Later dropping The Elephant Man as such). He goes through what he loves about horror and also his work and thoughts on Cronenberg’s film.
  • Casting Director Deirdre Bowen On The Fly (HD, 14:37) – She got the script out of the blue and had been out of work due to raising her baby. Bowen goes over her process and the aspects and qualities of the actors she looked at and chose for Cronenberg’s film.
  • David’s Eyes (HD, 25:24) – An interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin. Some of this overlaps a little with The Blob interview from that set, and has a more focused look at The Fly. He’s once again, a guy who just says what he says and has a real unique perspective on films and what he likes.
  • A Tragic Opera (HD, 9:16) – An interview with composer Howard Shore.  One of his favorite aspects of working on film is his research he does in preparations. Having worked with David Cronenberg multiple times, he has a real nice perspective on his work and that’s something you can see influences his own material. The interview focuses very much on how he crafted the score for The Fly.

Documentaries

  • Fear of the Flesh: The Making Of The Fly (SD, 2:22:06) – Includes Additional Making Of Interviews running for 26:45.
  • The Brundle Museum of Natural History (SD, 11:51)

Deleted/Extended Scenes

Film Tests (SD, 7:49)

Written Works

Promotional Materials – Trailers and TV Spots (SD, 10:34), 1986 Electronic Press Kit Featurette (SD, 6:58), David Cronenberg Interview (SD, 4:21)

Still Galleries – One Sheet and Lobby Cards, Publicity, Behind the Scenes, Concept Art, Effects

Trivia Track

The Fly II (1989)

Audio Commentary

  • With director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns

Interview With Stuart Cornfeld (HD, 8:12) – He briefly goes over them quickly being told to go ahead and do the sequel. Corneld immediately knew who to have direct and focuses much on the character they were going to have as the lead for the story.

Interview With Screenwriter Mick Garris (HD, 14:06) – The co-screenwriter opens talking his first job on Amazing Stories working for Steven Spielberg. “When you write for Speilberg, you are offered and not interviewed”. He was offered both this and Hocus Pocus around the same time. Garris was a huge fan of Cronenberg prior to landing this gig. He also touches on Fear on Film during this before he goes into following Cronenberg’s “masterpiece” and doing a teenage monster movie.

Interview With Screenwriter Ken Wheat (HD, 22:13) – The other side of the screenplay writing is told here, coming from Silent Scream, Battle For Endor and film called Lies prior. This is a little more Ken-centric as he hasn’t shown up for an interview on this set (Or other Scream Factory stuff). He does mention at one point he was set to direct Fright Night Part 2.

Interview With Cinematographer Robin Vidgeon (HD, 15:20) – Vidgeon was recruited based on his work on Hellraiser by a special effects guy on Fly II. He has a fun way of telling the story of getting himself to this movie. Vidgeon goes through his technique, Cronenberg’s vision and collaborating with the famed director.

Interview With Composer Christopher Young (HD, 18:34) – “I was extremely lucky I went to UCLA at just the right time.” The Scream Factory regular discuses getting a start with Roger Corman (Talking about how all the New World movies, no matter the quality, always got a theatrical release) leading into his thoughts and design for doing The Fly II.  “I was the luckiest guy in the world to get The Fly II:.

Interview With Special Effects Artist Tom Sullivan (HD, 17:45) – He opens with his depression at the time of landing this gig, having just lost his wife to a sailing accident. An admirer of Chris Walas’ work, he was ecstatic to get the call from Walas’ wife to come do some work in the studios for The Fly II. Sullivan goes over his work and the relationships with the people he met along the way.

Interview With Director Chris Walas (SD, 1:20:19)

Interivew With Producer Steven-Charles Jaffe (SD, 35:16)

Transformations: Looking Back At The Fly II (SD, 48:31)

The Fly Papers: The Buzz On Hollywood’s Scariest Insect (SD, 57:38) – Narrated by Leonard Nimoy 😉

Film Production Journal (SD, 18:04)

Composer’s Master Class (SD, 12:42) – An older interview with Christopher Young.

Storyboard to Film Comparison with optional Commentary (SD, 6:59)

Original Electronic Press Kit (SD, 5:10)

Extended EPK Interview with Actor Eric Stoltz (SD, 3:35) 

Extended EPK Interview with Actress Daphne Zuniga (SD, 3:31) 

Deleted Scene (SD, 1:28)

Alternate Ending (SD, 1:10)

Teaser Trailer (SD, :43)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:11)

Still Gallery (HD, 7:15)

Storyboard Gallery (HD, 4:51)

Summary

Scream Factory’s The Fly Collection is a real treat. It showcases two different eras of horror filmmaking. We see the differences and we see how many things can stay the same. You can see an evolution, harmony and overall how to craft a good remake. There is plenty here that has been released prior, the true gem of the set is the debut of The Curse of The Fly followed by the United States debut of The Fly II. Extras are very strong for this release, ESPECIALLY for the two 1980s films. In my eyes, there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch (All are at least entertaining or impressive on a core level) and the extras are valuable and keep you watching this LONG after the features have finished.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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