The Terminator – Special Edition



The Terminator – Special Edition

MGM Home Entertainment – 1984

Directed by James Cameron

Written by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Michael Biehn
Linda Hamilton
Paul Warfield
Lance Henriksen

THE TERMINATOR hits the screen with a full out assault on your cinematic senses. Between the excellent acting, photography, editing, music and special effects, this is a powerful directorial attack from the brilliant mind of James Cameron. THE TERMINATOR’s greatest strength lies in its circular story that presents a narrative structure that few films will ever achieve. It’s the way Cameron has connected the future with the past and the resulting action that comes from it.

A muscular cyborg, THE TERMINATOR (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels through time to present day (1984) Los Angeles. THE TERMINATOR’s mission is to find and kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who will mother a child, John Connor, who will lead a fight against the machines in the future.

Simultaneously, John Connor sends back a resistance fighter named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to stop THE TERMINATOR from killing his mother. Even more amazing is the fact that Kyle Reese ends ups getting Sarah pregnant, which means John Connor sends back his father, so that he will be born. It’s a full circle that has no end. That is unless THE TERMINATOR can break the chain.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been better. In fact, I don’t believe he will never top this character. Between his massive build and his vocal delivery, he is THE TERMINATOR. Arnold gives the character great body movements as he jerks his head and moves in a somewhat robotic manner.

Michael Biehn is unforgettable as Kyle Reese. Undersized compared to Schwarzenegger, Biehn battles Arnold and is utterly believable as a futuristic warrior and man who loves Sarah Connor. The romantic link between Kyle and Sarah is beautiful, convincing and will touch your soul. It’s the love story between these two characters that lifts this film far above the more technically proficient sequel T-2 and other Sci-fi action films.

Adam Greenberg’s cinematography is really wonderful. He is a master at creating ominous lighting that helps sets the mood of THE TERMINATOR and brings the apocalyptic future onto the screen.

Brad Fiedel’s score is inspired collection of dark keyboard lines, big pounding drums and metallic clangs. It’s war music that symbolizes the story.

Editor Mark Goldblatt must be mentioned. His aggressive cutting joins Cameron’s story together, never letting things slow down, except where the film needs to.

MGM has gone all out to put together a supplemental section that will make any TERMINATOR fan happy. We get two documentaries about the making of the film. Other Voices is a brand new feature that covers the entire creation of the film with the thoughts and testimony from nearly every major contributor from the film. It’s fascinating hearing how the film was created. While James Cameron was in Rome, Italy working on PIRAHNA 2, he became very sick and during his illness, had nightmares about a large robotic man rising up from an inferno. This image was the genesis of this landmark film. The second documentary The Terminator – A Retrospective was recorded in 1991, around the time of T-2 and features Cameron and Schwarzenegger speaking out about their work on THE TERMINATOR.

Originally Cameron was going to cast Lance Henriksen as THE TERMINATOR. During the audition process Henriksen dressed up as the character, walking into the room in full costume and even metal teeth. Eventually Cameron had a meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had hopes of playing the hero Kyle Reese. But Cameron could see that the “Austrian Oak” was perfect for the villain and asked him to re-consider roles. Cameron made a clear observation stating, “This role will be the biggest of your career and it will put you on the map as an actor.” Schwarzenegger read the script and agreed with Cameron.

There is also a massive collection of photos from the film as well as revealing behind the scenes photos.

We also get a bunch of trailers and ad spots for television. There are deleted scenes with audio commentary from James Cameron. It’s really nice to see the footage that never made it into the film, but you can certainly see why Cameron cut it out.

The DVD case itself is pretty darn cool. The powerful imagery conveys what the movie is all about. The picture quality looked cleaner than the print I first saw in 1984. The sound is leaps and bounds better than the original mix, as now the film is in stereo with aggressive use of surround channels.

One of the neatest things I found is being able to read the screenplay as A Script To Screen feature. You can look at how much Cameron ended up getting in principal photography, the differences in dialogue and on screen action. Cameron’s original complete treatment is also available and it’s surprisingly close to the final film.

I must not forget to mention Stan Winston’s special make-up effects. Winston and his crew turned Arnold into the metallic man and the full endoskeleton is one of the coolest looking things put on film. The CGI stuff today can never live up to high quality make-up effects, like the work Winston did on this film.

I can’t say enough about THE TERMINATOR – Special Edition. MGM Home Entertainment has done their job and delivered an awesome DVD. I’d find the closest DVD outlet or go online to buy this DVD immediately.


Jeepers Creepers – Special Edition



Jeepers Creepers – Special Edition

MGM Home Entertainment – 2001

Written and Directed by Victor Salva


Gina Philips
Justin Long
Jonathan Breck
Eileen Brennan

MGM Home Entertainment is putting out some amazing special edition DVDs. JEEPERS CREEPERS – Special Edition is from top to bottom, one of the finest DVDs I’ve seen. A great deal of care went into the special features and I wasn’t surprised to see that Victor Salva was in on the construction of Behind The Peepers. Tom Tarantini co-created this outstanding look behind the film. This making of documentary explodes with dazzling use of behind the scenes footage, still photos and Bennett Salvay’s incredible music.

The first section is called Finding Trish And Darry.  Producer Tom Luse and Victor Salva explain how they went about casting the two lead characters. We even get to see Gina Philips and Justin Long’s impressive first auditions. It’s in this section that Victor Salva admits that he made JEEPERS in response to seeing THE BLAIR WITCH and THE SIXTH SENSE. After seeing those films, he said it inspired him to go back and make the kind of film he made in during high school the only kind he always wanted to make. Salva grew up watching the old Universal “Monster” movies and JEEPERS CREEPERS came out of that.

 In Designing The Creeper Brad Parker Designer/Illustrator tells how he immediately could visualize Salva’s script. Parker grew up in Nebraska and says The Creeper is a classic Midwest bogeyman. He said he could totally relate to the wide open spaces with trees by themselves and old abandoned buildings left along the roadside. Cars And Trucks is the segment that shows how The Creeper’s old beat up truck was designed. Victor Salva says as he was putting together the opening 30 minutes of the movie, he realized that he was making DUEL, which he saw when he was thirteen years old. The Creeper Comes To Florida Jonathan Breck who played The Creeper, details how he played the mysterious character. Included is his audition, the sniff test scene, which is he performs amazingly similar to the final film. You can easily see why Breck won the role. In Night Shoots you will learn about how the film was shot at night and what the crew did to pull off the tricky stunt work. Composed By Bennett Salvay is the last section, which details how Salvay created the amazing score. We get a few sections of the film with isolated score and we get to see Salvay working with the different orchestras to get the music for the film. 

In all, the quality of the documentary interview footage, which is letterboxed and the audio and editing is pure dynamite. I haven’t seen a better behind the scenes documentary. Other supplements include: Deleted and Extended Scenes including Alternate Opening and Ending Sequences, Victor Salva’s audio commentary, a beautiful photo gallery and trailer.

I loved this movie. It is very well made by someone who is obliviously a horror movie fan. Victor Salva’s choices are mature and stylistically impressive. The first 30 minutes are as intense as any film I’ve ever seen. It made me think of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and DUEL. Salva doesn’t rush things and lets things unfold at an old fashioned rate. The way things should be when you are telling a monster movie or suspense piece.

A brother Darry (Justin Long) and sister Trish (Gina Philips) driving home, are almost run over by someone driving menacing looking truck. A short time later they see the truck and spot the man dumping what looks like bodies into a sewer pipe. The man doesn’t take kindly to their spying eyes viciously chases after them in his supped up, tattered truck. After almost getting killed by the maniac in the truck, Darry convinces Trish to go back and see if someone is still alive. This is a big mistake as it unleashes a chain of horrifying events, each more ghastly than the other. I was very impressed with the two young lead actors. Not only are they convincing as siblings, but are both able to project sheer terror believably. You are going to see Justin Long and Gina Philips again, that I’m sure of. It’s stroke of genius keeping The Creeper hidden for most of the movie. It makes you constantly guess who and what he is. An old man, a demon, Victor Salva lets your imagination come up with what you fear the most. Some people have complained that they didn’t like the ending because it reminded them of other movies. When I really think about it after watching this film again, I don’t think he made a bad choice. I think the medium character Jezette Gay Hartman (played by Patricia Belcher) was out of place but everything else was a progression of where the story was going. Salva wasn’t afraid to put his foot down in the end and really let you see The Creeper for what he is, a monster.

Jamie Lee Curtis: Scream Queen


Jamie Lee Curtis: Scream Queen

by David Grove

Bear Manor Media – 2010
ISBN: 978-1593936082
$32.95, 510 pages

Author David Grove puts his powerful magnifying glass over Jamie Lee Curtis’ career between 1978 and 1982 to focus on her scream queen years.  This was a glorious period of time where the actress used her talent and considerable charm to make five horror films and a suspense-thriller.

Grove not only hones in on Curtis, but provides the most comprehensive literature I’ve read about the making of Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, Road Games and Halloween II.  Thank goodness he did this because I was more than interested about all of them.

Reading about Jamie Lee Curtis’ upbringing shed light into her somewhat fragile psyche during her teenage years.  Not only was she the daughter of a famous Hollywood couple (Janet Leigh & Tony Curtis) but she was self conscious of her gray colored, crooked teeth.  Because of this she never felt beautiful like her mother and felt out of place in high school.  Plus she did not have a close relationship with her father, which certainly left an emotional void in her heart.

But of her emotional make-up and her unconventional good looks actually contributed immensely to her break-through role as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s Halloween.  It’s kind of like the movie god shun its light down upon this little production with a cine-magic combination of new star, rest of the cast, hard-working talented crew and a visionary director.  John Carpenter was looking to make a cinematic mark.  Debra Hill contributed greatly to the screenplay and was perfect at overseeing the production.  The charismatic cast spotlighted Jamie Lee and Donald Pleasance, but PJ Soles, Nancy Loomis and Nick Castle’s performance as “The Boogeyman” were just as important.  Add Charles Bornstein & Tommy Lee Wallace’s ace editing and a music score that’s recognized the world-over and you have one of the all-time great films.  Groves takes us back to when Halloween was put together.  You get to experience principal photography by the shooting schedule, with cast & crew comments along the way.


You would think that being in a film as financially successful and critically acclaimed as Halloween would have had Hollywood knocking on Jamie Lee Curtis’ door.  But that didn’t happen.  The first film she was offered was to re-team with John Carpenter & Debra Hill for The Fog.  Curtis really liked how the role of Elizabeth Solley was different than Laurie Strode and that she would get the chance to work with her mother, though they only share one scene.

Grove tells how Curtis actually sought out the role in Prom Night.  This makes sense and was actually a smart move because she didn’t have anything going and it afforded her the opportunity to work out of the country in Canada.

I thoroughly enjoyed Grove’s detailed coverage on how Terror Train was made.  Jamie Lee made it shortly after finishing Prom Night.  It was great hearing about how they made the film in Montreal, Canada with first-time director Roger Spottiswoode.

The author describes how Road Games was the actress’ first step at breaking away from the scream queen roles she had been playing.  He tells how she enjoyed going down under to film in Australia, even though there was a local backlash towards her after the producers of that film had Curtis replace the original Australian actress for the role.  Jamie Lee enjoyed working with director Richard Franklin (who was friends with John Carpenter at from their USC days) enough that they who later discussed about possibly doing Psycho II together, but both ultimately decided against it.

Even thought Curtis wanted desperately to make a clean break from being a scream queen, she did Halloween II because she felt she owed it to Carpenter & Hill for giving her a career.  Plus she felt responsible to play Laurie Strode for all the fans.  Little did she or anyone else know it would be the last time that she would work with John Carpenter & Debra Hill.

Grove does talk about the television work Jamie Lee did before Halloween and the roles she would perform after Halloween II, but really it’s her scream queen years that are rightfully this book’s focus.

If you have any affinity for Jamie Lee Curtis and her scream queen films, you will be thrilled with the wealth of information this book provides.  For those who aren’t familiar, this tome will educate you about the best scream queen to ever grace the screen.

Through David Grove’s intricate research and massive scale interviews, he’s put together the puzzle pieces of how these movies were made over three decades ago.  He spends a considerable amount of time detailing the making of each movie and for this reason; this book is worth the price of admission.  Since Halloween is my favorite film, while reading the many pages about that masterpiece film had me glued to this book and gave me great satisfaction.

Because the way the movie climate has chanced, I doubt we will ever see another actress take away the crown Jamie Lee Curtis will forever own as Scream Queen.