Blu-ray Review: The Larry Fessenden Collection

Larry Fessenden Collection

The Larry Fessenden Collection includes the films No Telling, Habit, Wendigo and The Last Winter and features new, director-supervised HD transfers. These four critically-acclaimed films by this multi-talented filmmaker and is the most complete retrospective of the filmmaker’s work to date. Award-winning filmmaker Larry Fessenden has become an indie horror legend with his idiosyncratic, genre-bending films. As a writer, producer, director and actor, Fessenden’s oeuvre has developed a passionate fan base who applaud his realistic, character-driven horror stories. Fessenden’s films often examine the disintegration of civilization and humanity,  provoking terror in the viewer through psychological dread,  not gratuitous gore.

no telling

No Telling (1991) follows Lillian (Miriam Healy-Louie) and Geoffrey Gaines (Stephen Ramsey), a couple that moves to the country where Lillian makes the horrifying discovery that Geoffrey is secretly performing some unthinkable limb transplant experiments with animals he finds around the area. Lillian has to make a difficult decision when she is forced to turn against her own husband and it doesn’t end well for the Frankenstein-like mad scientist. It’s almost like it was a long overdue wake up call for Lillian who had been very patient with her rather odd husband and seeing his final creation was the last straw and she couldn’t take any more if it.

Okay, No Telling is this modern day Frankenstein story that also deals with environmental issues as well as animal cruelty and even marital issues. There’s a lot of drama going on in this one! I like the way Fessenden added these really life concerns into his storytelling and it’s done really well. The movie is a slow burn but the eerie ending is more than a payoff when this “creation” of his is discovered. No Telling was shot in 35mm way back in 1991 and uses a few old school camera tricks to pull off some of the dark, atmospheric scenes in the movie. I really enjoyed this one that ended up being a first time watch for me. The word “macabre” comes to mind when I think about this one now.

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (1.78:1) Region A

Blu-ray Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: None

Special Features: Good Stuff! There’s some cool extras included on this disc. There’s commentary from Fessenden as well as his first short film and more. The full list is below.

  • NEW director-approved HD Transfer
  • NEW audio commentary with writer/director/executive producer Larry Fessenden
  • Making of No Telling (1991)
  • Archival footage (1990)
  • Short Film White Trash (1979) with new music by composer Will Bates
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (1985-1990)

habit

Habit (1995) follows Sam (Larry Fessenden), a down-on-his-luck New York bohemian who meets Anna (Meredith Snaider), a mysterious woman at a Halloween party. At first she disappears and then reappears when he least expects it but their relationship slowly grows and his health begins to fail. When this starts to happen, he begins to think that she might be a vampire. This relationship starts off as a fun fling between the two and ends up in tragedy.

Okay, I really liked the story for Habit that gives breathes new life in this stale vampire genre and mixes it up with addiction issues. Fessenden directed and starred in this one and did an outstanding job balancing the two. The movie is raw and gritty and another character study that features this one character that could possibly be a vampire and of course lots of smoking, drinking and sex. This is definitely a more grounded approach to the vampire genre and I really did like it. There’s just a little blood but nothing too much.

Run Time: 113 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (1.33:1) Region A

Blu-ray Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: None

Special Features: Good Stuff! There’s some great commentary from the filmmaker plus several fun short films that stood out to me. The impressive full list is below.

  • NEW director-approved HD Transfer
  • NEW audio commentary with actor/director/writer/editor Larry Fessenden
  • The Making of Habit featurette (1995)
  • Short film Habit (1981) (20 minutes)
  • The Making of short film Habit (1981)
  • Save You from Yourself music video
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Short film N is for Nexus, from Magnet Releasing’s The ABCs of Death 2
  • The Making of N is for Nexus
  • Frankenstein Cannot Be Stopped music video

wendigo

Wendigo (2001) follows George (Jake Weber), his wife Kim (Patricia Clarkson), and their 8-year-old son, Miles (Erik Per Sullivan) who are headed to their vacation cabin in the countryside in wintery upstate New York. The family’s frigid and snowy getaway slowly becomes a nightmare when they begin to be terrorized by the ferocious spirit of the Wendigo, a Native American myth made manifest in their son’s imagination or is it real? Miles is already a timid child and when certain events occur, this spirals his little world into darkness. It’s truly innocence lost.

Okay, this is the one that started it all for me being a fan of Larry Fessenden. I rented Wendigo at the local video store and I’ve watched it late at night on Syfy back in the day. Just liked Fessenden, I’m fascinated by the myth and legend of the Wendigo which is a really creepy looking creature! This movie relies heavily on its storytelling and the characters, especially the young boy, and of course this mythological creature that is revealed just enough. Wendigo still is one of my favorite movies to this day! Can I call it a creature feature?

Run Time: 92 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (1.78:1) Region A

Blu-ray Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: None

Special Features: 

  • NEW director-approved HD Transfer
  • NEW audio commentary with writer/director/editor Larry Fessenden
  • NEW audio commentary with actors Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber and John Speredakos
  • Search for the Wendigo –  Behind the Scenes featurette (2001)
  • Interview with Larry Fessenden (2001)
  • WENDIGO: animated series trailer
  • Short Film  Santa Claws (2008)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2010)

Last_Winter

The Last Winter (2006) follows a crew that is based in the Arctic where an evaluation of the environmental impact of oil drilling is being performed and strange events begin to plague them all. When the drilling crew’s chief Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman) arrives on the site, he is tasked with getting the job done but clashes constantly with James Hoffman (James Le Gros), a member of the team who keeps insisting they stop drilling and get out due to the strange events happening. Ultimately the crew ends up witnessing the mysterious terror that is outside in the freezing cold and ends up taking them out one by one. This ultimately leaves Abby Sellers (Connie Britton), the lone witness to not only these horrifying deaths but also the possible damages that this drilling has actually caused. Global warming, maybe?

Even though the story is completely different, for some reason The Last Winter kind of reminds me of John Carpenter‘s The Thing and it’s probably because of the Arctic location and familiar faces in the cast. I like the slow reveal that keeps the viewer in complete suspense as insanity sets in with one while an uncomfortable atmosphere hits the others. I’m not a believer in “man-made” global warming but I do believe that we should take care of our planet better – no littering, no smoking, etc. This planet will still be here long after all of us ants have become extinct! Anyway, the story was intense and I really liked the talented cast assembled for this chiller of a thriller. Also, the wait was well worth it once the killer “mystery” was revealed. I liked the creature that was also very Wendigo-like and the final scene that revealed the damage that the drilling had caused.

Run Time: 103 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (2.35:1) Region A

Blu-ray Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: None

Special Features: Good Stuff! This disc is packed with more cool extras. There’s more commentary from the filmmaker as well as an all-new interview. There’s also three more short films from Fessenden and company and lots more. The impressive full list is below.

  • Audio commentary with co-writer/director/producer/editor Larry Fessenden
  • The Making of “The Last Winter” – full-length documentary featuring deleted scenes
  • Archival footage (2005)
  • Short film  Jebediah
  • Short film Origins
  • Short film  Mister
  • Tired of Killing Myself music video
  • NEW 2015 interview with Larry Fessenden
  • Glass Eye Pix Sizzle Reel (2014)

Larry Fessenden Collection banner

The packaging comes with a nice slipcase. The front features the cool artwork by The Dude Designs that you see up top and the back includes release details and the impressive list of special features included with each movie. The reverse sleeve includes movie credits. There’s also a really nice and informative 24-page booklet, featuring never-before-seen photos, storyboards and sketches. The Blu-ray discs for each movie are colored coded – simple yet it’s a nice touch. Inserting each disc, the menu screens were simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality is different for each movie but they all look and sound great, some better than others.

Bottom line is, I really freaking love these movies! How’s that for a semi-professional opinion? All of these stories mix horror perfectly with thought-provoking real life topics and they’re all really interesting and very well done.  The Larry Fessenden Collection includes four tales of terror from multi-talented filmmaker Larry Fessenden who is a quadruple threat -he’s a writer, a producer, a director and an actor. I’ve been a huge fan of Larry Fessenden since I first watched Wendigo way back in 2001. Since then I have followed the filmmaker and his career and completely enjoy his movies and his leadership in the indie scene.

Larry Fessenden is truly a Master of Horror and is a hero for aspiring filmmakers everywhere! I still have my personal favorites which are Wendigo and The Last Winter but trust me when I say that No Telling and Habit are also two worthy obscure films that should be witnessed. All four of these Fessenden classics release for first time ever in high-definition when The Larry Fessenden Collection arrives on October 20th. The special features alone are worth the price of admission. His entire career has been documented and it’s all here in this 4-disc set. This is a really nice release by Scream Factory and IFC Midnight.

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