When Scream Factory released the Larry Fessenden film Beneath on blu-ray, it was a venture into modern indie horror despite its cable t.v. origins. Their new blu-ray of The Battery shows them taking a bigger step in this direction by releasing this micro-budget darling of the film festival circuit. Like Scream Factory’s disc of Beneath, it combines a nice A/V presentation with a fistful extras from the film’s creators in a way that is likely to please indie-horror fans.
The Battery was shot digitally, using a Canon DSLR camera, and the results impress in this blu-ray presentation: there’s a nice depth to the detail and a rich, autumnal color scheme that comes through nicely here. Both 2.0 and 5.1 stereo options are included in lossless form for the soundtrack. The 5.1 offers some extra dimension, particularly in the use of music, both offer solid, well-mixed options (pay attention the sound effects in the zombie scenes, which are unusually good for a micro-budget horror flick).
This blu-ray also offers a nice complement of extras, the majority of them created by the filmmakers themselves. The first is a commentary track featuring writer/director/star Jeremy Gardner, star/producer Adam Cronheim and producer/cinematographer Christian Stella.
This track offers plentiful information in a relaxed, chummy style. Gardner takes the lead, discussing where scenes were cut and for what reason as well as tales of production troubles and location issues that often resulted in the reworking of scenes. Stella is amusing forthright, freely mentioning disputes with Gardner in the shooting and editing, while Cronheim adds some details on the acting challenges of different scenes. You’ll also get some interesting trivia, like how the film became a scope-format project in post and the reason why the film didn’t make it to Comcast’s On Demand platform. All in all, a solid, fun track for fans and budding filmmakers alike.
However, the real highlight of the extras section is Tools Of Ignorance, a 90-minute documentary on the making of The Battery. Again, Gardner is the key player here, setting the basic narrative of how the film was conceived, crewed and produced, but there’s plenty of room for the viewpoints of Stella and Cronheim as well as worthy contributions from makeup artist Kelly McQuade, actor/production manager Elise Stella, musician Chris Van Eaton and editors Alicia Stella and Michael Katzman.
The results are engaging and frequently quite funny as the filmmakers laid out how they basically dove into feature filmmaking on a wing and a prayer and survived multiple crises, both production and personal, to get the film in the can. The crew shots tons of behind-the-scenes video during the production of The Battery so its featured heavily in Tools Of Ignorance.
Highlights include the haphazard filming of the “drunk in the Volvo” sequence, which involved real drinking, and a blow-out argument between Gardner and his editors and producer over the editing of the final scene. This documentary is inspirational stuff for aspiring horror filmmakers but offers genuine, you-are-there insight into the mixture of dreams and heartache inherent in indie film production. It’s one of the best supplements you’ll see on a genre home video release this year.
Elsewhere on the disc, you’ll find an 11-minute reel of material called “Outtakes.” It’s actually a mixture of on-set footage, outtakes, flubs and between-takes goofing around. It’s consistently fun to watch, with the key moments being outtakes from the orchard sequence and some perverse yet hilarious sex talk cut from the film. “Rock Plaza Central At The Parlor” captures members of the group from the title during an informal rehearsal, including spirited performances of their two songs featured in the film.
The package is rounded out by some trailers. The first is the theatrical trailer for The Battery: it’s a briskly-edited spot that makes good use of the film’s excellent outdoors photography, the music and several quotes from the film’s rapturous online critical response. The “More From Scream Factory” trailer gallery appropriately features the work of indie directors with spots for Beneath, Dead Shadows and Chilling Visions.
All in all, this is an excellent edition for this micro-budget indie and further proof that Scream Factory is willing to take a gamble on indie horror. It will be interesting to see if they uncover more titles in this micro-budget vein.
To read Schlockmania’s film review for The Battery, click here.