With studios stirring up a potent cauldron full of horror films and thrillers, many of them newly issued on DVD, the Halloween sell-through market looks promising for retailers. And with new fright flicks arriving for VHS rental -- and DVD growth driving down overall rental inventory costs -- the outlook for the rental segment could be "boo-tiful" as well.
Following are some of the picks from this year's packed pumpkin patch of video offerings:
Disney's Halloween Haunts promotion, which includes two Winnie the Pooh titles and the debut of a Roly Poly Ollie Halloween tape, will be available from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Burbank, Calif.
Warner's Ultimate Halloween Collection, Warner Home Entertainment, Burbank, Calif., features "Scooby-Doo's Spookiest Tales" and repromoted family titles on VHS in haunted house merchandisers. And "The Goonies" debuts on DVD at $24.98, joining repromoted DVDs with lower pricing.
New Line Home Entertainment, Los Angeles, is contributing to the Warner collection as well. The studio is repricing "The Little Vampire" to $14.98 as part of an overall promotion with Warner, said Justine Brody, vice president of marketing and promotions. The studio also is offering several contemporary fright titles for older audiences, and "Dungeons & Dragons" will be repriced for VHS sell-through in October.
MGM Home Entertainment, Santa Monica, Calif., is offering a collection of modern horror films on DVD at $14.95, including "The Howling," which is making its DVD debut. The studio also will have special edition DVDs of two Brian DePalma films, "Carrie" and "Dressed to Kill," at higher retail prices.
Universal Studios Home Video, Universal City, Calif., will also have "a huge Halloween initiative," said senior vice president of marketing Ken Graffeo. Product will include a 20th anniversary edition of "An American Werewolf in London," coming out for the first time on DVD, he said, as well as 70th anniversary editions of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula," plus a 60th anniversary edition of "The Wolf Man." The latter three titles will be available on Aug. 28 at $9.98 on VHS, along with over a dozen other classics, including five Mummy films.
Paramount Home Entertainment, Hollywood, will release a mix of rental and sell-through product on Sept. 25. "'Along Came A Spider' is our tent-pole," said Martin Blythe, vice president of publicity. This rental VHS release will be joined by four first-time DVD releases, including "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie," all at $24.99.
DreamWorks Home Entertainment, Glendale, Calif., will reprice "What Lies Beneath" to $14.99 on VHS for Halloween, along with "In Dreams" and "The Haunting," said Kelly Sooter, head of domestic home entertainment.
Rental titles are slated from Lions Gate Home Entertainment, Marina Del Rey, Calif. Director of publicity Scott Hayman listed "Bruiser," from horror director George Romero, and "Chasing Sleep" with Jeff Daniels. Lions Gate's Studio label will have "Route 666," starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Lori Petty.
Another rental title, "Possessed," streets Oct. 2 from Showtime Entertainment, New York. "It's the true story based on the events that inspired 'The Exorcist,"' said Sallie Fraenkel, senior vice president, marketing and operations, program enterprises, and distribution.
"When Good Ghouls Go Bad," from the creator of "Goosebumps" and starring Christopher Lloyd, is the lead title from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Beverly Hills, Calif., said Vice President of Marketing Todd Rowan. The title is priced for sell-through in both formats. Two VHS Casper titles will also be available at $9.98, and Brian DePalma's cult classic "Phantom of the Paradise" will debut on DVD at $19.98.
Artisan Home Entertainment, Santa Monica, Calif., will reprice to $9.98 VHS editions of "Stir of Echoes," "The Ninth Gate" and "The Blair Witch Project," said Hosea Belcher, senior vice president of marketing. Other titles include a new VHS six-pack of "Tales from the Darkside" episodes, along with several Stephen King films at lowered pricing.
A&E Home Video, New York, has the new-to-video coup, "The Complete Hammer House of Horror," the entire 13-episode collection of the classic British TV series, available at $69.95 for a VHS six-pack or a DVD four-pack.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Culver City, Calif., will have DVD debuts of the 1988 remake of "The Blob," "The Bride" and "When A Stranger Calls," as well as William Castle's campy "13 Ghosts," filmed in "Illusion-O," with color-filtered glasses for ghost viewing. The latter is timed to capitalize on the October theatrical release of the remake.