SyFy rules the roost in the cable when it comes to cheap, quick­ly made sci-fi and hor­ror movies made for the small screen.  However, they have recent­ly got­ten some com­pe­ti­tion on this front in the form of Chiller Films, a divi­sion of the upstart Chiller Network.  Like SyFy, they have also recent­ly begun to issue their films on home video.  Only time will tell whether they will take the tele­vised b-movie crown from SyFy but they’ve found a good ally on the home video front in Shout! Factory.  Remains is their sec­ond release of Chiller title on home video and they’ve put togeth­er an impres­sive blu-ray edi­tion for it.

The pack­age begins with a strong trans­fer of the film.  It pre­sent­ed in a crisp, col­or­ful anamor­phic style that uses the oft-col­or­ful cin­e­matog­ra­phy to strong effect.  Audio is pre­sent­ed in a sim­ple 2.0 Stereo mix.  While it doesn’t offer the speak­er activ­i­ty of a more advanced mix, it keeps all its ele­ments bal­anced: dia­logue is clear through­out and the music and effects have appro­pri­ate heft when the mix demands it.

The disc is also unusu­al­ly gen­er­ous for a t.v. movie on disc in the sup­ple­ments area.  The extras begin with a com­men­tary track fea­tur­ing direc­tor Colin Theys, screen­writer John Doolan, pro­duc­er Andrew Gernhard and make­up effects design­er Ben Chester.  Multi-per­son com­men­taries are often a risk but this one is pret­ty well-bal­anced: Theys dri­ves the dis­cus­sion and the oth­er add infor­ma­tive bits from their own van­tage points.

The result­ing track is very scene-speci­fic, with a lot of info about the film’s loca­tion (most of it was shot in Connecticut), the styles of the dif­fer­ent cast mem­bers and how the film dif­fers from its comic book source mate­ri­al.  A recur­ring the­me is how time and bud­get con­straints affect­ed what is on screen, with descrip­tions of what was intend­ed and how it had to be changed, often on the spot, to work with­in the production’s lim­i­ta­tions.  All in all, a solid track and a big improve­ment over the com­men­tary on a pri­or Theys/Doolan col­lab­o­ra­tion, Alien Opponent.

In the main extras area, there are sev­er­al com­mer­cials that were used to pro­mote the film’s orig­i­nal screen­ing on Chiller Network, plus a spot that was shown at Comicon.  These are basic EPK-type mate­ri­al but worth watch­ing for fans because some include on-cam­era com­men­tary from comic book author Steve Niles ( the­se bits are the only place he appears on this disc).  There is also a four-min­ute bloop­er reel that is mod­est­ly fun­ny and fea­tures a mem­o­rable mishap with a cam­era dol­ly at the end.

However, the big attrac­tion here is a trio of short films col­lec­tive­ly enti­tled The Road To Reno.  These shorts act as a pre­quel to Remains, depict­ing a sce­nar­io in which the peo­ple who run a ser­vice sta­tion (includ­ing one char­ac­ter who will pop up in Remains) are affect­ed by the nuclear dis­as­ter that spawns the zom­bies.  Interestingly, it is told from the point of view of a mechan­ic who is exposed to the blast and finds him­self trans­form­ing into a zom­bie.  Surprisingly, this trio of shorts is bet­ter than Remains itself: they move fast, have a few clev­er twists and embody a sort of pure­ly visu­al “comic book” style of sto­ry­telling bet­ter than the fea­ture itself.  Needless to say, any­one who enjoyed Remains def­i­nite­ly needs to watch the­se.

In sum­ma­tion, this is a far nicer disc than you would expect for a made-for-basic-cable flick: the trans­fer is strong and the extras are both gen­er­ous and worth the time for fans.  If you’re a col­lec­tor of zom­bie fare or some­one with a soft-spot for the­se small-screen quick­ies, the edi­tion of Remains is worth look­ing into.

To read Schlockmania’s film review for Remains, click here.