Halloween 2 & 3, TerrorVision, The Funhouse and other forgotten gems like Death Valley and The Island, these are all films that Cliff MacMillan holds near and dear to his heart. Cliff is the one responsible for bringing us all of these great titles to DVD/Blu-ray through Shout! Factory's genre arm, Scream Factory and Cliff is the first to admit that he might be being a little bit selfish in his work. But these titles are just the tip of the iceberg for what Scream Factory has in store for us. We grabbed a few minutes with Cliff to talk about Shout Factory's recent and future genre output. Here's what he had to say...
FEARnet: So why don't you want my kid to go to college?
Cliff MacMillan: (laughs) It's only going to get worse next year, I'm sorry.
Why did Scream Factory release their Halloween 2 Blu-ray so close to Universal's?
This kind of shows how long it takes sometimes to get deals done. When I had my original meeting with Universal, the first thing they said was that they were gonna do Halloween 2 themselves. So that shows just how long this deal took to get done, they hadn't even started when we sat down, and we said we'd still like to do the title. They even told us they were putting Terror in the Aisles on it and so forth. We knew that they weren't going to do any special features so we thought it was still worthwhile to do the title because nobody has heard a lot of these people talking about the film before. It still seemed like a worthwhile title for us even though we knew they were going to be doing it.
Is this a new transfer for Halloween 2 or did you use the same elements as Universal?
We used their high definition transfer but we went back into the studio and cleaned up the dirt and the mix. Things people had mentioned (about the original release) because we knew we had to add a little something more to the release, especially the transfer. There wasn't time to do a whole new Hi-Def transfer, I thought that their transfer was pretty good it just needed to be cleaned up a bit.
Can you talk a little about how you plan/choose bonus features?
I'm pretty big on the more the merrier so from the get go I just sit down with Micahel Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures and we try and figure a way that we're gonna attack the release. I've heard on forums and so forth people say, "well why didn't you put the extra footage from the TV version back in, and do a whole new cut of the movie?" It would be really expensive to do that and sometimes that material doesn't exist anymore.
I lucked out because I did ask Universal if they had the [Halloween 2] TV cut because I fondly remember watching it and they came back and said no, we don't have any TV master. They said that they do have some sort of AMC master but they thought it was just the movie with the gore cut out and not the scenes added back in. I said burn me a DVD so they sent it to me and I could tell right away it wasn't just that it was the original 1982 TV cut with the scenes added back in. So you know that was the only available master and we can't cut 4X3 material into 16X9 from that master it just wouldn't look good. I wouldn't even try that. Sometimes the fans are asking for things that just don't exist unfortunately.
You reach out to all the talent, I tried 2 routes to get to Jamie Lee Curtis and she just flat out wouldn't talk about it. John Carpenter wouldn't talk about the movie (Halloween 2), he only wants to talk about movies he directed which I understand, but it's still a shame. We reached out to a lot of people, we tried really hard to get as many people as we can to talk about the film that are willing to do it.
I would've thought that with the resurgance of VHS that people would embrace the full frame TV version.
That's what I thought! Just as a consumer I would have been really excited to get that TV version but there were a lot of complaints!
New artwork is really popular now with the likes of Mondo out there, how are the fans reacting to your new designs?
Yeah, most of them want just the original [release] artwork. We are getting some fans that love the new artwork but I think in most cases it's really about the original poster artwork. It's funny you mention Mondo which was my inspiration for doing the new cover art, people say, "Oh, they're just copying arrow", well no, it wasn't where I got my inspiration, it was from my love of the Mondo designs. I'm hearing they like the fact that they can flip the card around and have both.
With Halloween 3 did you know there was a built in audience or did you think you were taking a risk?
A lot of it is because I'm selfish (laughs) and I want to put them out because I love the movies but no, I knew that Halloween 3 had a real following so it was automatically on the list I had presented to Universal, hoping that they would liscence us some titles. It's so underarrted, you almost want to take Halloween off the title and call it Season of the Witch. Along with The Funhouse which I feel is really underated and is a great Tobe Hooper film.
Always been a favorite of mine. I vaguely remember a TV version? I know you listed deleted scenes on The Funhouse release but are there TV scenes as well? Am I remembering this correctly?
No you're absolutely correct, unfortunately none of it existed anymore at Universal so we had to pull it off of old VHS tape but it is on the disc.
As a bonus feature?
Yeah, it didn't amount to a whole lot of footage but it is good. And at least you get to see it. I think it might be 3 scenes. There's more with William Finely which is great, it's a shame they cut it out, but it's on there.
What else can we expect from The Funhouse?
The one thing I wanted to strive for was to get Tobe [Hooper] on there and I know Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs) was a good friend with Tobe so I asked Tim if he wanted to moderate a commentary and get Tobe to do The Funhouse and he was very excited. That I think is a great extra. We tried to find the cast but a lot of the folks we couldn't get like Elizabeth Barrage or Cooper Huckabee, we tried but most of them just never responded to us. But at the last minute we were able to get Kevin Conaway which was a big coup, he did a great interview.
How do you go about selecting titles?
I'm a huge horror fan so I do go out and look for things I grew up and loved but at the same time you have to find titles that are going to sell X amount of units. On our Facebook page we hear people come up with some amazingly obscure titles and they need to realize this still is a business and we need to pick titles that will sell so we can stay in business. Next year you'll see big titles that will help us to sell but also a lot of obscure titles and a lot of titles people have been asking for years and years.
How many releases a year should we expect?
2 - 3 a month starting in Feb. Around Halloween we may do a few more to keep the horror fans happy.
Can we expect any special edition packaging?
I'd really like to it's just so expensive, I'd love to do steelbooks, but you really have to do quite a few of them to get the price down low enough. There is a box set for next Halloween, and I'm hoping to do some deluxe packaging for that, should be cool.