Director: George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, Rudy Ricci
Starring: Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty, Ann Muffly, Raymond Laine, Bill Hinzman, Judith Streiner, Johanna Lawrence, Richard Ricci, Roger McGovern
Producer: John A. Russo, Russell Streiner, Nancy, M. Romero, A. C. Croft
Running Time: TBC
Year: 1971 – 1973
BBFC Certificate: 18
This buster pack contains three films “There’s Always Vanilla”, “Season of the witch” and “The Crazies” from the late great George A. Romero, showing he can do much more than zombie masterpieces. These gems were made betwixt Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Sadly George Romero passed away, leaving zombie lovers bereft, three films have been selected here, and like fine wines have improved with age, including two “lost films” and the infectious “The Crazies”, all filmed in the Pittsburgh area.
There’s Always Vanilla re-titled The Affair is George’s second film, a romantic comedy for which he admits “I don’t know that the film would ever have been a big success on any level”, and explains its lost status was caused by poor distribution, it only opened in a few theatres and then the distributor just folded his hand. The story follows Chris Bradley when he returns home to Pittsburgh, as he drifts about after a stint in the army, not wanting a job in the family business, making baby food. Chris is literally knocked over by Lynn, an older woman and a model too boot, soon she is supporting him emotionally as well as economically, causing tension in the relationship especially when she becomes pregnant as she feels she can’t depend on Chris, as he likes to party.
As you would expect from Arrow video “There’s Always Vanilla” is a brand new 2k restoration from original film elements, stuffed with extras, including brand new audio by Travis Crawford. Affair of the Heart: The Making of There’s Always Vanilla – brand new documentary featuring interviews with producers John Russo and Russell Streiner, stars Judith Streiner and Richard Ricci and sound recordist Gary Streiner. Digging up the Dead – The Lost Films of George A. Romero – archive interview with Romero discussing his early films: There’s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch. Location gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz, memorabilia Gallery, trailer and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned art-work by Gilles Vranckx.
Season of the Witch is up next, following the adventures of fed-up Joan Mitchell (Jan White) living in Pittsburgh with her deficient husband Jack (Bill Thunhurst) and wayward daughter Nikki (Joedda McClain). Bored, ignored and abused Joan decides to spice life up a bit after seeing a shrink when a Marion Hamilton (Virginia Greenwald) moves to the area. She and her friend Shirley (Anne Muffly) visit Marion for a Tarot reading to find out Marion runs a witches’ coven. The two ladies return home and meet Gregg (Raymond Laine), one of Nikki’s teachers’, Gregg takes a liking to Joan, but Joan is not impressed with his antics and turfs Gregg out. Joan takes Shirley home but comes back to find Nikki and Gregg up to no good, which leads all sorts of inappropriate shenanigans. Nikki is livid about the evenings’ proceedings and when Jack leaves for a business trip Joan is more despondent than ever, so she purchases a witchcraft tome and tries out a spell to attract Gregg. The spell on Gregg works and Joan sinks deeper into the world of witchcraft, having disturbing nightmares and trying out more incantations. When Joan learns that Nikki will be returning home, she finishes with Gregg, but her dreadful dreams continue, ending in Joan shooting her husband. Marion invites Joan into her coven and Joan is found not guilty of Jacks’ murder, maybe things are starting to look up.
Season of the Witch has a brand new 4K restoration of the original theatrical version from the camera negative (90 mins) and an alternate extended version which is 104 mins long. Included is a brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford and extra When Romero Met Del Toro – filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro in conversation with George Romero. The secret life of Jack’s Wife – archive interview with actress Jan White, alternate opening titles, location gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz, memorabilia gallery, trailer and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned art-work by Gilles Vranckx.
Last but certainly not least The Crazies follows two parallel stories from the side of those trying to stay alive amidst the chaos of The Crazies and that of the army and politicians trying to keep order. The madness ensues in Pennsylvania following David (Will McMillian) a local fireman and his girlfriend Judy (Lane Carroll) a nurse along with fireman Clank (Harold Wayne Jones). David and Clank were in Nam together, but their normally peaceful town has had a turn for the worse as violence erupts along with arson and a mad farmer. Pregnant Judy is worried, when heavily tooled up soldiers start to arrive, with Major Ryder (Harry Spillman) in charge, decamping in the doctors’ surgery where she works. Just a few days earlier the bungling army spilt some “Trixie” in the water which either kills you or turns you into a raving lunatic. The government order Colonel Peckem (Lloyd Hollar) to sort things out and scientist Dr. Watts (Richard France) attempts to create a cure. Nukes are deployed in-case the situation worsens and the army put quarantine in place with a shoot to kill for anyone trying to break out. The populace is moved to the local school, but the situation becomes more panicked as the Sheriff (Robert Karlowsky) is shot, meanwhile a senior citizen attacks a soldier with her knitting needles. With this all hell starts to break loose as most of the town’s people become infected leading to a glorious infected rampage of death.
The Crazies is believed by many, to be one of Georges’ sturdiest creations and is here with a brand new 4K restorations from the original camera negative, brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford. Extras include Romero Was Here: locating The Crazies – Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz takes us on a guided tour of Evans City, PA and the locations used in The Crazies. Crazy for Lynn Lowry – cult star Lynn Lowry discusses her early career, including her role in The Crazies. Q & A with Lynn Lowry filmed at the 2016 Abertoir Film Festival, audio interview with producer Lee Hessel. Behind-the scenes footage with optional commentary by Lawrence DeVincentz, alternate opening titles, Image galleries, Trailers & TV spots, There is even a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned art-work by Gilles Vranckx, I don’t think any more could be squeezed in, in-fact it would be Crazy to even try.
This six disc box set “Between Night and Dawn” is released on dual format on 23rd October 2017 by Arrow Video, containing an impressive bulk of extras and sumptuous sixty page booklet featuring new material covering the movies, all packaged in a splendid slipcase. The limited edition containing high definition Blu-ray (1080p) and standard DVD presentations, original mono Audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays). English Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, reversible sleeve for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx. With the limited edition sixty-page booklet by Kat Ellinger, Kier-La Janisse and Heather Drain. This is a mind-blowing Arrow release, it is pure cinematic magic, obviously a labour of love, oozing with extras and quality, and it’s an absolute delight for the connoisseur of fine film doing the great man proud.