MILL CREEK BLU RAY BOX SET: Dawson’s Creek (1996-2003)

I know no bigger fan of Dawson’s Creek than my friend Jim Sloss, who was kind enough to teach me that Pacey’s boat is named True Romance and to write this:

Over the years Sam has asked me many times if I’d like to write something for B&S and I’d always hem & haw and then never get around to it. Then came the box set of all box sets, the show that is like a time capsule to the 1990s and one of my all-time favorites, Dawson’s Creek.

In 1998 when this show came out I can remember vividly watching it on my VCR the following morning (because I had to work the night before) and from the first moment of the pilot to the last I was hooked, the dialogue was nothing that I’d heard before in a teen soap. They took a chance at treating the audience like adults rather than kids and it paid off. So, from that night on I followed the “kids” from Capeside each week for six seasons.

Created by Kevin Williamson, the co-creator of the horror franchise Scream, this series is a fictionalized account of a young film buff from a small town just trying to find his way. Pretty much what Kevin Williamson did was pitch what he knew and so he told a fictionalized version of his growing up in North Carolina. The show was launched on the WB network in January 1998 and was an instant hit with the show being parodied on MTV and Saturday Night Live. Their use of current pop culture and hit music for the time was what kept it relevant each week and talked about on school campuses.

During the late 90s, Dawson’s Creek was considered cutting edge for teen angst, touching on issues that were not talked about on TV and even less so in public. The first season dealt with drug abuse, addiction and infidelity along with every teenage boys dream… the inappropriate relationship with a hot teacher. In 1998 that was a huge story arc for a main character with the teacher just leaving to avoid scandal. These types of stories were becoming more and more common during this time and now leads to the teacher spending long stretches in prison rather than just moving on to another school.

Yet along the way these colorful kids learned from their mistakes and grew into functioning adults just trying to make their way. With the main character Dawson Leery, played by James Van Der Beek, not getting his High School crush Joey Potter, played by Katie Holmes, but instead getting to fulfill his dream of working in movies and TV where he turned his life into a teen drama TV show just like Kevin Williamson.

I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with the greatest quote and moment of this fantastic tv show. In the finale we find our core characters several years in their future living their lives with little interaction when everyone is reunited for a wedding they immediately learn that one of the main characters, Jen Lindley, is dying of cancer. While Dawson is spending time with his close friend at a hospice facility she has this Hollywood filmmaker record a video for her infant daughter to watch when she’s older. In that video one line she says that gets me every time is “Be sure to make mistakes. Make a lot of them, because there’s no better way to learn and to grow.” While she’s saying that you can see the anguish on Michelle Williams’ face, showing the audience how fragile she is at the end of her short life and how she just wants the best for her child.

This show never shied away from tough storylines and in the end wrapped up everyone’s arc phenomenally.

I would give this series a 10 out 10!!

P.S. The popular Jenna Ortega can be seen watching Dawson’s Creek in Scream 5 out in 2022 and currently on Paramount+.

Thanks again Jim.

The Mill Creek release of the entire series has all 127 episodes across six seasons, along with seven hours of bonus extras, which include Entertainment Weekly‘s 20th Anniversary Reunion, audio commentaries on select episodes, a retrospective featurette and alternate scenes and an alternate ending to the pilot episode.

I watched several of the episodes on this set as, surprise, I never watched this show, despite Jim telling me near consistently — we lived in a house with six people while this show was popular, so I have no idea how I didn’t watch it with him — that I need to watch “The Dawnson,” as he put it.

Surprisingly — as I have often remarked about Williamson’s other work — I really liked what I watched. It felt honest and truthful, nearly lived in. I’ve been watching a few episodes a week now and really enjoying the opportunity to be part of the lives of these characters.

These Mill Creek TV sets are great because they really give you the opportunity to do the same, exploring or binging or however you choose to watch. And unlike streaming, they’re always there for you, not being edited or taken down when you’re in the middle of watching a season.

You can buy the Dawson’s Creek set from Mill Creek at Deep Discount.


AmnesiA (2001): Directed and written by Martin Koolhoven, AmnesiA is the story of two A’s: Alex and Aram (both played by Fedja van Huêt) and their attempts at reconnecting as they attempt to care for their elderly, dying, constantly drunk and frequently hilarious mother (Sacha Bulthuis). That sounds like anything but something I’d usually want to watch, except that there’s also the suicide of their father which has been a point of secrecy and contention for years, as well as the constant power games that Alex unleashes on Aram, including turning his girlfriend Sandra (Carice van Houten) against him. Oh yeah. She’s also a pyromaniac who just appeared in his car one day.

At the same time, Aram has come back to the family home with Wouter (Theo Maassen), a friend who had a crime go wrong and is dying from a bullet to the stomach. This will not help Alex, who can no longer take photographs, as every time he focuses on a subject, he sees the face of a woman who utterly upsets him. One brother is at war with everyone; the other just wants to hide inside himself. There’s no way they can agree, get along or make it through life without great tragedy.

Also: This movie has a lot of female urination to the point that you wonder if it’s some kind of symbolic thing or it’s a Tarantino feet moment.

That said, this is a dark and surreal journey into long-kept family secrets, including a murder in addition to that suicide, and a movie that was meant to be a black comedy, which was lost on audiences, according to the director. Not everything is explained and yet filling in those holes makes this an even more intriguing watch.

Also: Aram’s car has the license plate 28IF, just like Paul’s on the cover of Abbey Road. He’s also barefoot for most of the film, so if I follow the logic that I learned through record album conspiracy theories, he’s already dead.

Suzy Q (1999): Based on the childhood memories of Frouke Fokkema, who wrote the script together with director Martin Koolhoven, Suzy Q is about Suzy (Carice van Houten), a young girl coming of age in the 1960s. The title refers to The Rolling Stones’ cover of the Dale Hawkins song “Susie Q” and the Stones — most importantly Mick Jagger and his lover Marianne Faithfull — figure into the plot, as Suzy finds her way into their hotel room and is kissed by Mick, a fact that no one wants to hear or believe.

Her mother is lost, her father is abusive yet powerless and her brothers are trying to escape with either guitar or young lust. Suzy yearns for a time when she will escape these origins, but it won’t happen just yet. But she will get away.

This is a strong early film for Fokkema and Carice van Houten is incredible. Demetri Jagger was set to play his uncle Mick, but he backed out with some worry that the rock star would not approve. Instead, that’s Andrew Richard — Andy Bird, a one-time lover of Madonna — playing the singer.

All of the music rights kept this from coming out on DVD for some time. Koolhoven encouraged people to post the movie online and did it himself on YouTube.

Dark Light (1997): A burglar (Marc van Uchelen) gets caught breaking into the farm of an old woman (Viviane de Muynck). She’s obsessed with religion. Her body is covered with sores. Things get weird.

She believes that the thief is there by divine intervention and she must enact his penance, which means forcing him to slaughter a pig and lick her body, which is a horrifying moment in direct contrast to the barren and beautiful location that this is set at.

He remains handcuffed throughout as they both throw Biblical passages at one another and battle for some kind of power over one another. She sees herself as Job, afflicted with sores of some plague. We never see her face.

For an early film, Dark Light proves the talent of its creator, director and writer Martin Koolhoven.

The Cult Epics blu ray of AmnesiA has a 4K HD transfer (from the original camera negative) and restoration of the movie, plus an introduction by Martin Koolhoven, commentary by Koolhoven and Fedja van Huet that is moderated by Peter Verstraten, a conversation with Koolhoven and Carice van Houten, a making of, behind-the-scenes footage and a trailer. Plus, there’s a second disk with two TV films by Koolhoven: Suzy Q and Dark Light. There’s also new slipcase art by Peter Strain and a double-sided sleeve with original film posters. You can order this movie from MVD.

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001)

Diana Collins (A.J. Cook, Criminal Minds) has accidentally unleashed the djinn, who is now played by John Novak. His first movie is to grant the wish of Professor Joel Barash (Sean’s son Jason Connery) and give him a deadly threeway that fulfills two of the needs of the direct to video sequel: blood and boobs.

The djinn wants Diana to be the one to make three wishes and unleash his djinn brothers on the world. Her first wish is given when the djinn makes her friend Anne (Daniella Evangelista) puke her guts out. Instead of watching her friend be in pain, Diana wishes for an end to her suffering.

Her second wish is for the power of St. Michael the Archangel — is he the patron saint of fighting djinn? — and her boyfriend Greg (Tobias Mehler) jumps in the way and becomes St. Michael, who gets all sorts of wild powers like being able to slice off demon hands.

Directed by Chris Angel (who also made the sequels The Fear: Resurrection and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled) and written by Alex Wright (who directed and wrote The First 9 1/2 Weeks, which is also 9 1/2 Weeks 3 and that would be 66 days x 3 = 198 days; unsurprisingly Malcolm McDowell is in the cast) and credits Peter Atkins (who also knows sequels, as he was the writer of Hellraiser II, Hellraiser III and Hellraiser Bloodline) for the characters he created in the first Wishmaster, this was supposed to have Divoff in the cast as the djinn.

He loved the series so much that he wrote the Y2Ksploitation Wishmaster: The Third Millennium, which started with an American warship getting hit by a Chinese missile and the UN being attacked by demons. When Divoff gave his script to the producers, they turned it down, as it would have been too expensive. When he read Alex Wright’s script, he quit the series.

This film and the fourth were made in 16 days. They took a weekend day off though.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante (2001)

Just minutes after the end of Plaga Zombie, the sequel lets us know that the Argentine government is working with the alien zombies in exchange for protection from the dreaded virus that has started to change the world.

Only Bill Johnson (Pablo Parés), John West (Berta Muñiz) and Max Giggs (Hernán Sáez) have survived the initial outbreak and they are to be released back into their overrun neighborhood. That is unless Agent James Dana (Esteban Podetti) and his death squad don’t kill them first.

If you follow the river of blood and gore, you go from Sam Raimi to Peter Jackson to this film, which delights in showing ways that zombie bodies can be desiccated, destroyed and decimated. And if you love wrestlers beating up the undead, well, John West has an entire musical number where he explains how tough he is and how much he loves to rekill the living dead.

Anyone who doesn’t like this movie has no idea how to have fun. I’ve read some reviews that say, “Well, it gets complicated” or “It’s too long.” I have no idea how one can be critical of a movie where a zombie has its intestines torn out and then sprays diarrhea all over the place. I mean, how many Merchant Ivory movies can give us that? This is pure joy, made by people who are in love with making it. Just sit back, shut off your hypercritical mind and enjoy what they have made for you.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the entire series from Severin.

HorrorVision (2001)

Also known as FEAR.comHorrorVision is The Matrix from Full Moon, which means you get Brinke Stevens and Len Cordova as people named Toni and Dez whose job is getting more porn on the internet, which in 2001 wasn’t what it is in 2023. But after Toni and his girlfriend Dazzy (Maggie Rose Fleck) both go missing thanks to a creature born of the inherent negativity of the web, well…

Yes, the couple at the center of this movie is comprised of two people named Dez and Dazzy.

Anyways, Dez gets help from the wise Bradbury (James Black), who has to help Dez learn how to fight and how to get over his loss of creativity, as he gave up screenwriting for creating on-demand pornography.

Don’t be fooled. This is not a movie about a cool looking monster, although it has that. It’s really about endless drives to God Lives Underwater-sounding generic post-NIN music, a long trip to the goth store and lots of desert. So much desert that I’m shocked that Kyuss doesn’t show up to play a song.

This ends with no resolution and it feels like there’s about half the movie left but no. That’s all you get.

Charles Band intended to direct this, then J.R. Bookwalter and finally Danny Draven, who made the remake of Death Bed in 2002 and also was the guy who directed Cryptz. 2000s Full Moon is…rough.

There is a pretty rad cyborg demon who is downloading people onto CDs and you know, I would watch that dude for the entire length of this movie instead of what I saw.

You can watch this on Tubi.

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Vampire Junction (2001)

This was shot in Málaga, Andalucía, Spain but it’s supposed to be an Old West tourist town in the American Southwest, a place where a journalist named Alice Brown (Lina Romay) has come to track down a man named Doctor Spencer (Steve Barrymore). It looks really arty getting there, Lina’s face lit by dashboard as rain slices against the night on an endless drive, but then you find out the town is called Shit City and this is another late Jess Franco movie shot in a hotel room.

The town has been taken over by vampires and yet again, you hope that this has some level of story and not just video effects and women writhing on beds and well, this also has brightly haired lesbian vampires writhing on beds, shaving each other and, yes, video effects.

There’s also the idea that the lead vampire is Father Flannigan — we never get to meet him — and sometimes he’s evil and others he’s divine and that’s an intriguing concept. I’m sure Jess was going to get around to it but first, could you ladies please groom one another’s pudendums, please?

The scene where the two female vampires spider walk Lina into bed is good. The idea of cowboy vampires is worth exploring. In fact, that’s all that’s here, a bunch of ideas that are set up and then it goes on and on and somehow, this is a movie that has transformed acts of Sappho into boredom and if you told 16-year-old me that this was possible, he’d be amazed.

Sometimes, I get the feeling on these late Jess movies similar to the feeling of when I hear a song like “Unforgiven” and remember that the very same Metallica did “Trapped Under Ice.” Except that I’m not irrationally enraged at Jess. It should have been Lars, both with Cliff and Soledad.

Vacation Massacre (2001)

No, this isn’t the other title for Fernando Di Leo’s 1980 home invasion slasher Madness. I mean, that one has Joe Dallesandro in it.

This one was directed by Brian Labuda when he was just a teenager and had access to a family video camera, but go with me on this. It’s not bad. I mean, the kid was in eighth grade when he made this, his friends all seem so much younger and yet they were able to come together and make a forty-minute SOV horror movie complete with early 2000s punk touchstones like a nearly brand new Ramones shirt and yes, a Goldfinger tee.

Better than it has any right to be, this film puts you dead center into a 2000s version of “do you want to see a dead body” except that it’s “do you want to see several dead bodies and perhaps even be one of them?”

We all had hobbies as a kid like drawing comics or playing in bands, right? No one is ever going to see my scribbled remixes of comics like Grips and Mr. A. They will also never hear my horrific high school hair metal band Nasty Habitz or Pretty Boy Floyd or even my 2000s rap rock outfit Mr. Blonde. Yet everyone in this movie has been trapped in amber and we can see their past fun and marvel at not only how entertaining it is, but how much of a joy it had to be to make.

You can watch this on YouTube.

The Monster Man (2001)

In the year 2210, the world as we know it has been wiped out by a virus sent here by aliens — aliens that look like ninjas with pillowcases over their heads. Now, their leader Lord Gideon (Conrad Brooks, yes, from Ed Wood’s movies) has sent these alien ninjas to destroy the last two people alive, Jake (director and writer Jose Prendes) and Katherine Great (Denice Duff, Michelle Morgan from Bloodstone: Subspecies II and Bloodlust: Subspecies III and the director of Song of the Vampire; if you’re going to be alone with just one woman, you really are doing find if it’s Denice Duff).

Beyond Prendes being decent at kicking and punching, he was smart enough to go to a convention and pay Tom Savini and Linnea Quigley to do a scene, which is probably some of the reasons why some people watched this.

Prendes is still making movies, writing stuff like Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark and directing 2022’s Headless Horseman. He thanks marshmallows in the credits, which seems like the right thing to do after watching this.

Who would think of making Omega Man on the budget of what Will Smith drank in soda on each day of I Am Legend? Joe Prendes. That’s who.

Screamday (2001)

There are just three movies by Stefan Schipke — this, Blutgericht der Zombies and a sequel to this — and you know, you could look at this as scuzzy SOV throwaway dross but hey, it was reissued on DVD in Germany as part of Terror Compilation: Volume 1 (2000-2002), which is pretty wild when you think of it.

There’s definitely a crossover — beyond the simple of metal and horror — between black and speed metal lovers and the SOV gore obsessed. There’s the same yearning for someone to go harder and faster, to be true, to not worry if the drum sound or video quality is horrible as long as the blast beats are there and we get plenty of guts and chum. The voices and vocals sound the same. Inaudible. Unspeakable. We have no idea what’s happening but if we experience it enough we learn the riff or the gist and celebrate it, speaking names of arcane bands and lost movies either outside in the cold before shows or in chat windows, seeking new and better highs.

The fact that this ends with a poised karate battle that looks so legit gives me hope in this life.

Also: How the fuck does this have an entry on Letterboxd?

All hail altohippiegabber who posted this on YouTube and is keeping so much strange and not even posted to IMDB SOV alive.

Cruel Intentions 2 (2001)

They made a Cruel Intentions 2, I hear you say? Baby, they made three of them.

This was intended to be the Fox TV series Manchester Prep, a re-imagined prequel to the first film that was canceled before it even made it on the air in 1999. 13 episodes were ordered with original Cruel Intentions director Roger Kumble writing and executive producing the series, two were filmed and Rupert Murdoch himself was upset with all the incest, teenage sex and a scene with a female teen character was aroused by a horse’s penis.

Columbia TriStar Home Video repackaged the two existing episodes of the show as a direct-to-video film, but not before adding nudity and even more sex, including dialogue like “At this rate, your dick ll be in my mouth by lunch.”

Sebastian Valmont (Robin Dunne) has transferred to Manchester Prep following his father Edward’s (David McIlwraith) remarriage. Then he meets his new rival, his stepsister Kathryn Merteuil (Amy Adam, well before she was someone who starred in films and instead was playing sexy teens in Fox TV series) who warns him to stay out of her business. He then falls for Danielle Sherman (Sarah Thompson), the one girl — the only virgin in town — who he thinks is normal in this rich school filled with secret societies.

Man, how I wish this show had made it to TV because it is absolute trash and I say that with all the best of meanings. I actually prefer Dunne to Ryan Phillipe, but as good as Amy Adams is, she in no way can match the sheer menace that Sarah Michelle Gellar was so perfect at being a horrible person that one wonders if anyone can act that well.

You can watch this on Tubi.