The spookshow was once a time-honored tradition in American entertainment. Harkening back to the days of vaudeville, and that strange period when movie houses still had stages under their screens, the spookshows were combinations of movies, magic tricks, and good old showmanship. Monsters frequently appeared in the audience, often in conjunction with what was transpiring on the movie screen thus, Monsters Crash The Pajama Party, during which a mad scientist sends his lackeys past the camera and out into the seats to grab a supposedly innocent bystander (actually part of the show) and drag her onto the movie screen.
Since the title featurette is so short - about forty minutes, five of which are the opening credits (which are much funnier than anything in the movie itself) - Something Weird has turned this disc into a time capsule, a virtual museum of this once popular art.
The cover art is lurid and crowded, perfectly aping the flyers for one of these shows. The quality of the materials on the disc is usually quite good, the damage from inevitable rough handling on the road is kept to a minimum. The most novel part of this already novel disc is the interactive menu: As you move the cursor about the screen, you find that the options are not only presented to you in picture form only but most of the pictures are invisible until you press enter! Thus, you're never quite certain where you're going to arrive, preserving the playful atmosphere of the spookshow.
I suppose that practically everything on this disc besides Monsters Crash is an extra, and dang, there's a lot. There are other spookshow shorts, like Asylum of the Insane, a 3D piece mostly involving people in masks swinging at the camera, but it does finally have a moment that worked on my home system, Of course, it involves a paddleball, just as in House of Wax (glasses are included). There is also Chased By Monsters, more people in masks and an Encyclopedia Brittanica educational short, Don't Be Afraid, in which Mommy explains why night terrors are bull twaddle.
There's still more some "Horror Home Movies" from the 30s through the 60s, some of which are smashingly good, all accompanied by the Dead Elvi. Trailers! Photos! Radio Spots! Audio commentary by two different spookshow professionals! A reproduction of one of those "Do Your Own Spookshow" booklets (only 50 cents! Order now!)!
But wait! That's not all! Clicking on some of those invisible items will net you snippets from various other Something Weird titles (with the bad trip sequence from The Weird World of LSD cropping up more than once)! NOW how much would you pay? But that's not all! You will also receive Bert I. Gordon's 1960 ghost story Tormented (which scared the living crap out of me as a child) FREE!!!!!
Like the Dragon's Lair DVD, this is a gratifying use of DVD technology to reproduce something unique. It will not be for all tastes, but for those with a yen for bygone entertainment, it is a breath of fresh air.... FROM THE GRAVE!!!!! (evil laughter, cue slamming door sound effect)
Dr. Freex, 3/5/2002