Where In the Heck Is Spookies Already?!

Today's the day I ask one of the biggest, most important questions that's been looming since I started DVDExotica: where in the heck is our Spookies special edition DVD/ blu?  And admittedly, the more visually astute among us might be looking at the graphic to the upper right there and thinking, what are you talking about, dude?  That looks like a Digitally Remastered DVD right there; what's that?  Well, I'll tell you what that is.  That's a piece of insignificant junk.  If you've ever heard of Vipco before, you don't need to be told.  But it's pretty much the best we've got.  But stick around and I'll tell you what's the deal with that disc, why Spookies deserves so much better, and how it's been sitting frustratingly on the cusp of an awesome special edition and just needs somebody to give it a little push so it can spread its creepy spider wings and take off.
Spookies is one crazy, wild 80s horror flick, even by comparison to other crazy, wild 80s horror flicks.  It features vampires, werecats, spider women, ghoulies, witches, ouija boards, grim reapers, deadites, hand puppets, muck men, zombies and more.  There are so many ambitious special effects from prosthetics and animatronics to stop motion and rotoscoped eye beams.  Everything you've ever wanted to see in an 80s horror movie is here for you.  I remember this in the VHS days, and the cover had a big splash about how it won a special effects award right on the front.  Now, I don't know if that was from a legit competition, or if it was something they made up to give themselves and market the film; but these are award-worthy effects regardless.  I mean, not Academy Award-worthy, but it sure tops a lot of its low-budget direct-to-video competition.
So don't get the wrong idea.  This is not a great horror film.  It's silly, convoluted, cheesy and makes absolutely no sense.  The writing is dumb, the acting is laughable and the editing is downright broken.  And if you're one of those people who's gonna let that stuff spoil it for you, you're not gonna dig this movie.  But oh man, is it cool!  A group of completely disparate characters decide to crash an old mansion to party, use a ouija board and bring an evil force to life, where each room is a different crazy horror experience: statues come to life, muck men in the basement, it's always a surprise.  Meanwhile, there's an old vampire magician trying to force an undead beauty to marry him and sends his henchman after a little boy on his birthday...
The reason why this movie doesn't make much sense, or at least one of the reasons, is that it's sort of two movies in one.  This movie was already filmed as Twisted Souls, and that version has never been released to this day.  Some time later, the filmmakers hired some new cast members, made some new monsters and shot a bunch of new footage.  Then they cut big chunks out of Twisted Souls to make room for the new material, and thus Spookies was born.  That's why half the main characters never even interact with the other half; it's a mash-up.  And that's the only version that's ever been released in any format to date.
Vipco's 2002 UK DVD.
So Vipco has reissued this a couple times in the UK with different covers, but it's always the same disc.  It's fullframe, barebones and interlaced to hell.  I'm guessing it's taken from the old Image laserdisc and probably open matte considering the insane amount of excess headroom present in their roughly 1.31:1 worth of picture.  It's dark, and I'm assuming the film itself is meant to be dark, but coupled with the extra-strength interlacing, it can be downright difficult to discern what's even going on in any given shot. Audio's just your basic 2.0 mono track with no subtitle options or anything.

"Extras" include one of those garbage Stills Gallery where they just take screenshots from the same low-quality transfer that's on the disc and put ugly boarders around them.  There are also bonus trailers for a couple other Vipco Screamtime Collection titles, but not Spookies' actual trailer.  Oh, and yeah there's a more recent German DVD from Intergroove under the name Evil Spookies, but it's the same, barebones, fullscreen crap as ever.
But what're you gonna do; the film's probably lost, right?  No!  The filmmakers have been vocal online about having even the unseen Twisted Souls footage.  There have been 35mm screenings with cast and crew members at Drafthouse theaters.  All the makings for an ideal special edition are on-hand and these guys are on record as being interested in putting one together.  You could have a restored Spookies looking amazing, plus the original Twisted Souls cut and a whole bunch of interviews, commentary, etc.  For a while, fans were assuming this was an upcoming release from Drafthouse Films, but no offense if I'm mistaken here, but I think they're out of the home video business now.  They've had no releases yet this year, nothing announced, they canceled their subscription service and their social media's pretty quiet.  But check out that VHS cover on the left (courtesy of the Spookies article on Horrorpedia.com).  That's not the one my video stores used to have, but look who put out that version - could this be an upcoming release in the terrific Vestron line?  That would be amazing; although I'm not so sure they still have the rights.  So it's up to anybody from Scream Factory to Code Red to step in and save the day.  Come on, fellas, who's it gonna be?
But fans have been asking for this title since the early DVD days and it's been a long, dead wait.  So don't get your hopes up.  In the meantime, all we have are these no frills full-frame import DVDs.  But the film's still amazing, so I'd recommend getting one.  Just go with whichever you come across for the cheapest, because they're all the same.  And one day, fates willing, we'll get to replace them.

1 comment:

  1. Agree, John, I've always enjoyed this and look forward to the day I can put my old VHS copy to dead... (it was Vipco's UK release funnily enough, probably barely inferior to the DVD you refer to in the article). The fact that the full Twisted Souls footage is out there somewhere is mouth-watering, let's really hope that one of the boutique labels decides to do this justice (on Blu).

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