• The Attic Expeditions (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 27th, 2020.
    Director: Jeremy Kasten
    Cast: Andras Jones, Seth Green, Jeffrey Combs, Wendy Robie, Ted Raimi, Alice Cooper
    Year: 2001
    Purchase From Severin Films

    The Attic Expeditions – Movie Review:

    The feature length directorial debut of filmmaker Jeremy Kasten (who would go on to direct The Wizard Of Gore remake and, more recently, The Dead Ones), 2001’s The Attic Expeditions is an atmospheric mix of humor and horror that, despite some flaws, proves to be a pretty entertaining watch thanks to some inspired creativity and a few fun casting choices.

    The story revolves around a young man named Trevor (Andras Jones) who is locked in a mental hospital where he’s haunted by horrifying memories of murdering his girlfriend during what appears to have been some sort of Black Magic ritual. Trevor is under the care of Dr. Ek (Jeffrey Combs), a rather suspicious man in his own right, who really wants to pry that arcane knowledge that Trevor keeps tucked away in the far recesses of his brain out of his fractured mind so that he can put it to use himself.

    The film leaves a lot of what happens open to interpretation. Is Trevor, likely a schizophrenic, really seeing what we see in the movie, or is this all in his head? With pretty much the entire story told from his point of view, we’re often left to decide much of this on our own. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. The movie tries for Lynchian surrealism in spots, occasionally succeeding with some interesting visuals and a consistently strong atmosphere, but never quite getting all the way there thanks to some obvious budgetary restraints and some occasionally flat acting.

    Still, there are moments here that work really well, most of them involving Jeffrey Combs, immortalized in films like Re-Animator and From Beyond, who is his typically entertaining self and a great casting choice for a doctor of dubious morality. He owns each and every scene that he’s in, and he’s just a lot of fun to watch. Sadly, Jones, who will look familiar for his appearances in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, isn’t his equal and comes across as flat and, at times, a little too distant for his own good. Seth Green turns in a ridiculously energetic supporting performance as a fellow denizen of the asylum, Ted Raimi and Wendy Robie shows up as other doctors and none other than Alice Cooper himself pops up here as a character named Samuel Leventhal, an ‘escape artist’ type. Some of this might seem like novelty casting, but regardless, the presence of these supporting players does up the fun factor of the film quite a bit.

    Production values are uneven, with some of the effects not quite working the way that they should have and some of the post-production techniques definitely showing their age as a product of the early 2000s. The ending loses things a bit, never quite finishing as strong as you’d hope, but there’s enough to appreciate here that the movie is worth a watch, particularly if you’re a Combs fan.

    The Attic Expeditions – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films presents The Attic Expeditions on Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc that is taken from a new 4k scan of the film’s original negative. The feature takes up 32.2GBs of space and overall, this is a really nice picture. Some of the digitally tweaked scenes show less than perfect detail but the rest of the movie looks nice and sharp. Colors are well-reproduced and always look good, black levels are solid. Compression, edge enhancement and noise reduction are never an issue and while there’s a nice amount of natural film grain here there isn’t really much in the way of print damage at all, the image is nice and clean.

    English language 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio options are offered up in 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with removable subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go as it spreads out the score and the effects pretty effectively. It’s also properly balanced with clean dialogue and free of any hiss or distortion.

    The main extra on the disc is a featurette entitled Cast & Crew 20 Year Pandemic Reunion & Story of Making The Attic Expeditions. This forty-minute piece starts with EPK interviews from 1998 with Katsen and the main cast members, but from there we get a bunch of new footage that was shot during Covid-19 via Zoom with Katsen, Combs, Green, Jones, Robie, Tim Heidecker (this was his first film role, he plays a driver!), Dan Griffiths, and a few others. They talk about what it was like on an indie director's first feature, how the various participants enjoyed working on the set (and how some of them were basically living on set) and more. There's also quite a bit of vintage behind the scenes footage included in here as well as some footage from some of Katsen's earlier projects, talk about the editing process, talk of Katesen's short film work, pressures that arose during the making of the movie, the film's pre-production process, the different characters that the cast members played and lots more.

    Also on hand is the Alice Cooper & Jeffrey Combs Internet Reunion featurette which is a five-minute piece that starts with some amusing behind the scenes footage from the shoot and then let's the two legends talk via Zoom with Katsen about going to see The Rolling Stones together by accident, how important having them in the film was to Katsen, their collective enjoyment of low budget genre pictures and their thoughts on the movie overall.

    Horror Scholar Adam Rockoff Contextualizes The Attic Expeditions is a seven-minute Zoom featurette where Rockoff talks to Katsen about the origins of the project, his goals with making the film, writing the script when he was nineteen, getting some of the more recognizable cast members together for the shoot and the importance of getting them in the movie, the pros and cons of directing as a naive youth and where his career and life was at around this time.

    Menus and chapter selection round out the extra on the Blu-ray, however, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the Severin exclusive limited Black Friday edition includes the first ever release of the original motion picture soundtrack on CD, which is a nice bonus for soundtrack fans.

    The Attic Expeditions – The Final Word:

    The Attic Expeditions isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch but it’s entertaining enough in its own right. Fans will appreciate the quality of Severin’s release as it looks and sounds quite good and has a nice selection of extra features, including that really nice soundtrack CD.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Attic Expeditions Blu-ray screen caps!