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November 27, 2013

From a Shout to a Scream: An Interview With Jeff Nelson & Cliff MacMillan of Scream Factory

If you’re a horror and cult film fan chances are you have some titles from Shout Factory’s Scream Factory label. Recently we had a chance to interview the men behind the High-Def scares of this company, Cliff MacMillan and Jeff Nelson.

CHC: It's been a little over a year since the Scream Factory label made its initial splash, are you pleased with how far you've come with as many quality titles that you guys have produced?

JEFF: Extremely pleased! We’ve certainly exceeded what modest expectations we had when we first created the brand and have been amazed by the fan reaction and all of the great titles we’ve been able to pump out in such a short amount of time. It’s surreal at times actually.  

CLIFF:  very pleased. We put out a lot of titles in one year. I’m not sure we can put that many out in 2014 without going a little mad.

CHC: The recent release of the Vincent Price Collection is easily one of my favorite Blu-ray sets this year. The new bonus features in particular were definitely a reason cheer. How was the production on that and are you looking into more Price or AIP titles?

CLIFF: It’s always hard to produce extras for older films. We lucked out when someone from PBS contacted us about the Vincent Price introductions. Those really made the set special. The new interview with his daughter Victoria Price also made the set special. She was wonderful to work with.

CHC: Slumber Party Massacre is making its debut on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in 2014. Will you be looking into some other horror titles released to DVD from Shout Factory for that format -- Kingdom of the Spiders, maybe?

JEFF: It’s unlikely we will be able to dive more back in our pre-“Scream Factory” vaults like we just did for Bad Dreams, Visiting Hours and Slumber Party Massacre. We’d love to do Kingdom of course but our rights expire on the title soon. 

CLIFF: I think it will also depend on how well SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE sells…. Though I think we have now released all the ones that we feel would sell on Blu-ray. We were lucky to locate the original camera negative for SLUMBER. We wanted to release it on Blu-ray back when we first released the DVD, but the elements we found were not in great condition.

CHC: Much of the catalog is made of retro-horror from the 70’s and 80’s but you guys have shown a good eye for fun recent independent films like Cockneys vs. Zombies. Are there plans for more titles fit that mold?

JEFF: Yes, we do have some more newer titles to bring into the mix in 2014 starting with Beneath – a tense teens-attacked-by-a-large-fish film – in March and directed by acclaimed director Larry Fessenden (Wendigo, The Last Winter) 

CLIFF: Yes, we continue to look at new films from up and coming talent. We will be releasing David Cholewa’s DEAD SHADOWS in April. It’s a very cool horror/sci-fi film done on a shoe-string budget, but it looks better than some big budget films.

CHC: Bonus features seem to be a big sell and a welcome focus for much the releases. Personally, I enjoy the candidness you guys have gotten from some of the participants. Rick Baker had me laughing in one interview about his obvious disdain for the lead in The Incredible Melting Man.  Jamie Lee Curtis actually embracing her horror films on the extras for The Fog was another interview I felt refreshing. What are some fond memories that you have in putting these together?

CLIFF: We have been very lucky to have access to some big name talent for our releases …. And there is more big name talent that will be on some of our upcoming titles. It is great when they take time out of their very busy schedules to sit down and talk to us. You go after some of the big name talent and you figure you’re not going to be able to get to them and they surprise you by taking the time to talk with you. I think it’s great for the fans.

CHC: Being big horror fans yourselves, do you get star struck when meeting these people you grew up watching?

JEFF: Of course! Lol. It’s hard not to sometimes because you've watched some of these actors/characters several times over the years in films you adore. Although I've been in the business for almost 20 years and have met lots of celebrities, I still caught my breath a little when meeting Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau in particular. And I’m still dying (pun not intended) to meet Wes Craven so that I can gush about Deadly Blessing.

CLIFF: yes, of course. I use to go to all the horror conventions, long ago, as a fan and I remember standing in line for a long time to get some of these people’s autographs and now I’m actually working with them.

CHC: What movie in the Scream Factory catalog has been the most difficult to acquire?

JEFF: I’m gonna say our upcoming NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT, would you agree Cliff? 

CLIFF:  yes, NIGHTBREED is up there, but there are a few other titles coming in 2014 that took a lot of time to work out. I think the first Universal deal, with HALLOWEEN II etc., was the longest deal  to date… over a year.

CHC: I’m sure you guys tend to get a lot of requests for what to release. What is the most bizarre, head-scratching request that you've gotten?

JEFF: Oh boy that’s a tough one as I run the Facebook page and I see them all. We respect them all of course but I’ve been amazed at time to see films pop up over and over that I would never think would have such a devoted fanbase. Some that stand out: Hell Night, Rawhead Rex, Ghoulies, Dolls, Waxwork and so many more. I mean I remember when these titles just sort of “came and went” when they were originally released, and now they’re practically revered. 

CLIFF: I can’t think of one that is bizarre… but I’m sure there have been a few. As I get older, I forget a lot, loll.

CHC: One of the more enjoyable releases this past summer for me was Ninja III: The Domination. That movie’s a total guilty pleasure without a doubt, and it looks damn good on Blu-ray to boot. What are your favorite guilty pleasures?

JEFF: Glad you liked Ninja III as it certainly is ridiculous fun. To list all of my guilty pleasure films would take hours so I will just concentrate on what we've released and my top 5 contenders would be Ninja III, Deadly Blessing, X-Ray, Schizoid and Death Valley so far.  

CLIFF: I’ve always been a big Cannon fan. I grew up in the Bay Area and I remember having to drive to Berkeley to see gems like REVENGE OF THE NINJA and NINJA III on the big screen. I’m old enough that I saw these films in the theater when they first played. I suppose SATURN 3 is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s so bad it’s fantastic…. And our HD transfer looks spectacular.

CHC: The future releases you have slated are looking pretty strong with the announcements of Sleepaway Camp, Night of the Demons, Witchboard and others. Are their some titles specifically that may surprise fans?

JEFF: Yes, we aren’t at liberty to say them, of course, but if we can just get some recent deals we have in the works signed, then fans will be extremely happy with some of the surprises.  

CLIFF: We just announced two titles (GINGER SNAPS, DOG SOLDIERS) that seemed to surprise fans and they quickly took to the forums to argue over whether they should be Scream Collector’s Edition titles which I thought was funny. Though it’s not a Scream title, I’m happy about scoring Walter Hill’s SOUTHERN COMFORT which is a favorite of mine. Fangoria recently wrote about the film. It’s a very underrated film.

CHC: Thanks so much for your time guys! Any parting words?

JEFF: Just thank you to you and your readers…and a big thanks and shout out to the Scream Factory fans for their support. Please keep buying so that we can be around for a long time to bring you more great films! 

CLIFF:  Exactly what he said. (smiles)

Please be sure to head on over to the Shout Factory website and get your holiday shopping going with some of the cool deals for both Scream Factory and Shout titles. Just click here -- SCREAM FACTORY

Cinema Head Cheese would again like to thank Cliff and Jeff for their time and also a special thanks to CHC contributor Rob Sibley.


  1. This interview just made me so happy! I'm a very recent (mid-Oct first purchase) Scream/Shout fan and already a frighteningly rabid one, and I've been eager to hear/learn more about the people and the processes that take place to yield such exquisite product. At some point Scream should put out a documentary or YouTube about a typical Collector's Edition production, from announcing the title to release day.

  2. Agreed! The 2014 slate looks pretty stellar.