DirectorAndrew J. Kuehn
Release Date(s)1984 (October 13, 2020)
Studio(s)Kaleidoscope Films/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
Long before the days of Youtube, the idea of seeing select scenes from movies was limited to TV specials and promotional appearances on talk shows. Studios would occasionally put together a series of clips from its own movies, including That’s Entertainment! and its subsequent sequels, but putting together a nearly 90-minute reel of scenes taken from films owned by various studios was, and still is, a tall order. The folks from Kaleidoscope Films, a company that specialized in cutting movie trailers, managed to do just that. Released by Universal Pictures in 1984, Terror in the Aisles showcases moments from horror and thriller films to create a rhythmic best-of compilation of sorts, surrounded with newly-shot narration by Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen.
Contained within are clips from the likes of Halloween, Halloween II, Jaws, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Omen, Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Marathon Man, Friday the 13th Part 2, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Food of the Gods, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Play Misty for Me, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Wait Until Dark, The Silent Partner, Bug, Sisters, The Thing with Two Heads, The Car, Alligator, The Shining, Nighthawks, An American Werewolf in London, Alone in the Dark, Vice Squad, The Thing, Poltergeist, When a Stranger Calls, and many, many more. Sharing rights between Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros, MGM, American International, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, AVCO/Embassy, and other entities, it’s a wonder that Terror in the Aisles ever got made, let alone was ever released on home video. Today it remains a fun artifact that highlighted many genre offerings, from the high brow to the low brow, but also introduced a legion of fans to a variety of horror films.
Scream Factory brings Terror in the Aisles to Blu-ray as the main feature, leaving the original Universal Blu-ray release of Halloween II in the dust which included it as a mere extra. It appears to be the same master, but a decent one nonetheless. The variety of sources used at the time means that there isn’t going to be an even presentation through and through, but everything appears natural without any heavy digital clean-up. Detail is sometimes soft and grain levels are uneven, but that’s to be expected. The color palette offers a nice variety of hues as well. Blacks aren’t always deep, but contrast and brightness levels are ideal. Leftover damage is limited to minor speckling and lines. It’s an otherwise healthy and stable presentation.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s a strong track with good push for music and sound effects, rendering dialogue exchanges cleanly. The variety of clips also offers a variety of sound experiences, from the quiet to the robust. However, everything is well-balanced with no heavy leftover damage.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary by Russell Dyball and Jeff Nelson
- Scene Stealer: Nancy Allen on Terror in the Aisles (HD – 3:57)
- Dancing with Masters: Composer John Beal on Terror in the Aisles (HD – 4:54)
- Master Class: Editor Greg McClatchy on Terror in the Aisles (HD – 8:58)
- Alternate TV Version of Terror in the Aisles (HD – 95:21)
- TV Spots and Trailers Reel (HD – 23:08)
- Trailer (HD – 1:31)
- TV Spot (Upsampled SD – 0:33)
The audio commentary features pop culture historian Russell Dyball speaking about the context of the film within the timeframe it was released and who created it. Jeff Nelson joins in for a brief discussion as they share each other’s history with the film, as well as their opinions on it. It’s definitely an enjoyable companion. In Scene Stealer, actress Nancy Allen briefly discusses getting the job, meeting the director, her memories of making the film, and missing out on the opportunity to work with Donald Pleasence since they were filmed separately. In Dancing with Masters, composer John Beal talks about working with Andrew J. Kuehn and making trailers together, his approach to scoring the film, mimicking other scores without stealing from them, and writing a song for the film. In Master Class, editor Greg McClatchy discusses the formation of Kaleidoscope Films, sequels featuring different subjects that never happened and why, the clip selection process, the newly-produced score, battles with the MPAA, and his final thoughts on the film. The alternate TV version, presented here in standard definition, offers more of a work in progress type of experience, featuring clips from several films that didn’t make the final theatrical cut. The additional TV spots and trailers for films featured in Terror in the Aisles are numerous. They include a spot for Psycho, two spots for Rosemary’s Baby, four spots for Frogs, one spot for The Exorcist, three spots for Bug, nine spots for Jaws, two spots for The Food of the Gods, ten spots for Marathon Man, four spots for Jaws 2, teaser trailers for The Fog and Halloween II, and one spot for Poltergeist. Rounding out the extras are the film’s trailer and a TV spot.
Although Terror in the Aisles only scratches the surface when it comes to genre films, it’s a fun experience that has a lot character crafted into it. Scream Factory’s disc, complete with a great set of bonus features to go alongside it, makes for a highly recommended release.
- Tim Salmons