Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon Collector's Edition


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3stars:
Audio: :3stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:



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Movie

Scream Factory (a sub set of Shout Factory) continues on with their tradition of re-releasing catalog films from the major studios in nice, new, collector’s editions with spiffy new extras and new video remasters. I was actually a bit surprised at this one, as normally Shout/Scream release titles from Universal, MGM and the occasional other minor studio, but this is the first time that I can recall them re-releasing a film from Starz/Anchor Bay. Well, I won’t complain as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon was one of the most fun movies of 2006 that I never actually saw (well, until much later that is). I’m going to admit something silly. I never watched Behind the Mask until about 2012 (ish) for a very silly reason. I hated the cover art. It looked really cheesy and low budget, so I wrote it off as one of Anchor Bay’s garbage films and just passed it over. Even back in the heyday of Blu-ray’s rise when the film was being sold for $5 to entice new viewers, I just said “nah” and passed it on by. It wasn’t until about 5 or 6 years ago when a friend of mine looked at me like I was CRAZY after mentioning that I’d never seen it, and forced me to watch it that I really gained an appreciation for the film.

Much like Cabin in the Woods, Behind the Mask is a love letter to the horror genre, but done so in different ways. While Cabin in the Woods was pretty much an allegorical Joss Whedon love/hate letter to the genre, Behind the Mask is a faux documentary that really gives homage to all of the slashers that came before it. Acting as if Jason, Freddy, Michael Meyers and Chucky were all REAL people, we follow a news crew around as they go to interview Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), who has invited them over to document his PRE-slasher self before going on the start of his (soon to be) legendary rein of terror. The documentary follows the seemingly “normal” man around as he chats philosophically about the meaning of life, the desire to slaughter teenagers for no apparent reason, dances around his psychiatrist (amusingly played by famed horror legend Robert Englund), all while planning his murder spree that is coming up.

Behind the Mask is a wonderfully tongue in cheek homage to all of the famous slashers. The film doesn’t just act as a slasher itself, but carefully deconstructs all of the little cliches and nuances of what makes a slasher a GOOD slasher. Leslie himself is one of the first terror villains that we actually see BEFORE he dresses up in a costume and starts hacking teenagers and villagers left and right, so it acts as a strange window into the soul of the mysterious nature of these types of villains. The winks and nods to the genre are pretty obvious at first, but after the 2nd or 3rd watching you realize just how much is hidden beneath the surface. The more hardened of a horror aficionado you are, the more you’re going to get out of the film, as there is just soooooooooo many delicious little homages built into the experience.
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The movie acts as a sort of “manual” for a slasher film, dissecting all of the dos and don’ts of the genre, as we watch Leslie prepare for his night of terror. However, there is much more than just a tongue in cheek dissection of a slasher. Behind the Mask carefully pushes at the viewer and the documentary screen, asking them the pertinent question “just how far is too far?” as they get more and more uncomfortable with what is about to happen. A question that comes to fruition in the third act when the film changes from fauxcumentary homage to full on horror movie.

Like all horror movies, Behind the Mask lives and breathes through the characters on screen. The blatant mix of nobodies and horror legends (like Robert Englund) really works on a visceral level, but it’s really Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon that really sells the film. He OWNS the character and you get a kick out of watching his bizarre and slightly unnerving “normal” life man as he slowly sinks into the twisted nightmare fuel that we all know and love from the slasher genre. It’s a movie that is slightly overhyped by the horror community (sorry guys), but is still a FANTASTIC watch if you’re at all into good old bloody slashers. The more of an aficionado that you are of the genre, the more you’re going to get out of it in my humble opinion.




Rating:

Rated R for horror violence, language, some sexual content and brief drug use




Video: :3stars:
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Scream Factory boasts a brand new 2K master of the film, but honestly, I wouldn’t go in expecting the world. Let me preface this statement by saying that this is NOT a fault of Scream Factory in the slightest. The faux documentary was shot with a mixture of hand cameras, 16mm film and then blown up to 35mm for presentation. As such the movie is NOT going to look like a million bucks, even after a full restoration. The original Anchor Bay release wasn’t a pretty looking film at all, and BARELY looked better than standard definition material at the time. This release is a teensy bit better, but due to the filming nature of the movie this is about the best we’re going to get. Depth is ok, with solid facial detail all around, but digital noise and a very soft looking picture is pretty standard for the cheaply shot film. Blacks are OK, but they get a bit murky in the darker shots and, once again, digital noise and mosquito noise get a bit wonky. Again, I MUST iterate that this is not a fault of Scream Factory, but the inherent nature how how the movie was shot, and they have replicated the original experience down to a T.






Audio: :3stars:
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Just like the video, the audio is a bit of a pedestrian affair. Even though this release has BOTH a 5.1 and 2.0 stereo DTS-HD MA track, this is really just a 2.0 affair with some mild background noise dropped in to give it the appearance of a 5.1 experience. Being cheaply made and shot like a documentary, most of the audio is piped through the center channel and the mains in the form of dialog. Sure, there’s some minor crashes and bangs that allow the mains to get some action, and the same thing goes for the surrounds, but this is a very talky film that is locked firmly up in the front of the room. Audio clarity can be a bit scratchy, as the boom mics and camera audio capture capabilities aren’t exactly high end, but this is all a part of the fauxumentary experience of the movie and exactly how it was intended to be. The one nice thing is that Scream Factory actually gave us a lossless track instead of the 5.1 lossy Dolby Digital track of the Anchor Bay release, giving it a slight edge over its predecessing release.






Extras: :4stars:
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New 2K remaster of the film
Joys and Curses – interviews with actors Angela Goethals, Ben Pace and co-writer/co-producer David Stieve
Before the Mask: The Comic Book – an interview with comic book artist Nathan Thomas Milliner
• Audio commentary with co-writer/director Scott Glosserman, moderated by filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch
• Audio commentary with Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Britain Spelling and Ben Pace
• The Making of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon featurette
• The Casting of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer






Final Score: :3.5stars:


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is one of the best slashers that you’ve never heard of before. World of mouth was huge back in the day (something I had to research as I passed it by so many times that I had ignored most of the initial buzz) and the movie was well received by fans, but largely forgotten about by most mass market viewers. Scream Factory has done the best it can with the rickety source material for a collector’s edition, but have balanced out the limited audio/video increases with some new extras and a great new collector’s edition cover art and slipcover (the original cover art is once again available on the reverse side of the insert). Fans will have to decide if upgrading is worth it due to the slightly better audio and video and extras, but overall, it is has made enough leaps and bounds over the Anchor Bay release for me to actually consider it. Great watch, and solid collector’s edition.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund
Directed by: Scott Glosserman
Written by: Scott Glosserman, David J. Stieve
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 27th, 2018






Recommendation: Great Watch

 

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Thank you for the review. I really need to watch this one now. I have heard of it but never seemed interested until I read your review. You know me and the slasher genre lol.
 

Michael Scott

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what? you like slashers??? :greengrin:
 

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what? you like slashers??? :greengrin:
Lol. Today on Prime I watched Terrorvison from the 80's. As a kid I use to see it at the video store but never got to rent it. Today it was cheesy fun. Glad I finally got to watch it.
 
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Michael Scott

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wow, I haven't seen that in YEARS
 

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Thanks for the review. I will also have to catch this one.
 

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I added the film to my Amazon Prime list to watch.
 

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I watched it last night on Prime and really enjoyed it. It was a little slow to get things going but boy when Leslie got started it got crazy. I think though it was a little predictable on who the virgin was going to be without giving too much away. I thought the story was really creative and fun to watch.
 

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Glad you liked it buddy!
 

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Michael Scott

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He had a rubber face for sure
 

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Going to watch Insidious: The Last Key this weekend :)
 

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Michael, Are you by change going to get your hands on Winchester for review? I hear its a mixed bag but my father in law liked it.
 

Michael Scott

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Michael, Are you by change going to get your hands on Winchester for review? I hear its a mixed bag but my father in law liked it.

sadly that will probably be a no go. I'm curious about it, but we probably won't get it
 
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