2021 gave us one of the most extreme, wild rides in horror last year with the release of V/H/S/94…
…The fourth film in the V/H/S found footage anthology franchise, the sequel offered up extreme terror. Extreme gore. And extreme fun. Thanks to RLJE Films, you can now bring home this goopy piece of extreme horror with a disc loaded with special features to die for.
For those that haven’t had the screaming pleasure yet, V/H/S/94 is set in, you guessed it, 1994, and follows a S.W.A.T. team sent into a warehouse to investigate some sort of underground cult in the business of sinister tapes. Inside, they discover a slaughterhouse of eyeless corpses and other horrors, as well as four tapes depicting terrifying stories, each more depraved than the last.
And every second is a grainy, bloody blast!
The wraparound segment in anthology horror is often the most difficult yet vital piece of the puzzle, and the filmmakers aren’t afraid to admit that the wraparounds in the V/H/S series haven’t been all that well received. As writer/director Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin) reveals with her wraparound, “Holy Hell,” there was a ton of pressure as well as excitement in creating a bookend to remember. Through Behind the Scenes interviews and feature-length commentary, Reeder provides an infectious passion for the opportunity to be a part of the successful franchise that comes through in her segment, which tosses viewers right into the madness, whether they’re ready or not. They’re not, by the way. Reeder’s segment gets the adrenaline pumping so hard your eyeballs will pop out of your skull. Deleted scenes give fans a look at a few moments that were cut from the opening, which offer a little more depth for the characters, but it was the right decision to cut these slower scenes and drop us into pure chaos.
The film’s first story, “Storm Drain”, written/directed by Chloe Okuno and following a fearless journalist who comes across Raatma, a half-man/half-rat monstrosity, found itself creating its own cult following once #HailRaatma showed up on social media. An odd coincidence, considering many of the stories involve cultish tendencies. “It’s been the coolest thing ever,” says Okuno on the feature commentary which also includes producers Brad Miska and Josh Goldbloom, Reeder, V/H/S alum Simon Barrett “The Empty Wake” and Ryan Prows “Terror”. The disc lays quite the tribute at Raatma’s clawed feet, with the feature “V/H/S/94 Special FX with Patrick Magee”, which gives an up close and personal look into the creation of the fan-favorite creature.
There’s plenty more where that came from, too. Every segment of V/H/S/94 feels as if they set out to outdo each other in the effects department, and we all win because of it. The less popular but equally magnificent vampire from Prows’ “Terror” also has our heads shoved into the toothy mouth of the beast. This feature alone should boost appreciation for “Terror” and its horrific vamp. If the goopy test footage of sliming the creature’s mouth doesn’t make you gag, congrats, your stomach is stronger than mine.
The best anthologies conjure up a little horror for everyone, so while the other segments are more balls nailed to the wall rushes of adrenaline, Barrett’s “The Empty Wake” is the slow creeper of the bunch inspired by more traditional horror. Centering around a funeral home on a stormy night where a new employee is tasked with managing a wake in which no one shows up, Barret flexes his scare the shit out of you muscles, packing “The Empty Wake” with nerve-fraying suspense. The segment gets both its own commentary from Barrett and the feature “The Empty Wake Visual FX”, both of which peel back the flesh of the story to reveal the stunning effects work that went into creating Barrett’s ghoulish zombie and details on what’s really going on that viewers may have missed the first time.
A common theme in V/H/S/94, as the filmmakers all discuss, was in capturing the strange element of 1994 and how we were beginning to see clips on the news captured by unprofessional randos on video. Ryan Prows’ hilarious “Terror”, about a right-wing militia group who fuck around and find out with a vampire they plan on using as a weapon, may be the most gut-busting of the segments but also grows eerily more relevant as time goes on, which Prows contemplates during his commentaries. V/H/S/94 was shot during the beginning of Covid—discussed at length by the filmmakers—meaning they all had to face being quarantined during the shoot. That paranoid anger and fear over a changing world comes through in each segment, but perhaps none more so than in “Terror”.
The one disappointment on this disc? Writer/director Timo Tjahjanto only shows up in the Comic Con Panel Interview with journalist Richard Newby to discuss his steam-punk horror, “The Subject”. An absolutely bonkers story concerning a mad doctor Frankenstein-ing machine parts with non-consenting test subjects, it blew my goddamn mind and is largely considered to be the “best” of the anthology. Yet it’s the least explored through the special features, which is a massive bummer. Entertaining and informative as it is, the fact that Timo doesn’t appear on the commentary with the rest of the filmmakers and Bloody Disgusting’s Boo Crew is a rusty nail in the foot of this disc.
Regardless, V/H/S/94 features a bevy of talent firing on all cylinders, with enough scream-inducing monsters, gore, grime and slime to make you want to rip your skin off because one-hundred hot showers won’t be enough…and RLJE Films’ disc is a more than worthy release fit for the madness. Special features from anyone but boutique companies are a dying art, yet this disc pulsates like the tape from Videodrome with loads of informative and entertaining features--including juicy comments on the hard work that went into crafting the V/H/S look--that’ll whet the appetite of even the most rabid of fans.
Watch it, if you dare.
(I totally dare you)
Check out the full list of special features below and grab a copy of V/H/S/94,now available on Blu-ray/DVD from RLJE Films.
By Matt Konopka