Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time 03.03.11: The History Of New World Pictures

March 3, 2011 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.

Previously on ABGT, we had some more “What If” scenarios that I love doing.

Which brings us to that feedback you love giving me.

Freddy? brings up a good question: If freddy was innocent, they could have had freddy getting revenge, but what of the person(s) that killed all those children in the first place? Would Freddy be looking for him or would he already know who done it and help them to continue? Of course, he would kill all those related in his death.

That would be very interesting. You could have a second villain! Maybe save him for when Freddy’s becoming an anti-hero to fans around Part 4. That way when two evil guys fight you have someone to root for.

Wells replied: Watch H2, Loomis did give up. And that was my biggest problem with it…..

The less said about the massacre of Loomis in H2, the better.

cdunc83 says: Love these “What If” columns, especially when it comes to horror films. I always wonder what movies would be like had some of the happenings been a little different. Since I’ve been watching the Puppet Master series by Full Moon, I sort of now wonder what if Andre Toulon’s process of in Puppet Master 2 had been a success? How insanely evil would the puppets be throughout the series? How big would this puppet/human race be that Toulon creates? Another one that popped into my head was what if Jennings had gotten away with the puppets in Puppet Master 5? How crazy would Biotech become?

I might have to touch on the Puppet Master films. An obvious question would be “What if Full Moon actually had a continuity that wasn’t confusing?”

Adam H asks: What if was a Cheeto that contaminated Martin Brundle’s teleporter?

I’d say that instead of being the first insect politician, Brundle would just be dangerously cheesy.

Last Rider said: I think you’re what if for Hellraiser is a bit off. The first movie would remain unchanged, they made a deal and Pinhead would have been more than willing to simply punish Frank more after his escape. Would there be a change I think it would come in the second one. They even note that she’s trying a similar ruse after they meet Kristy in Hell. It’s more likely that Pinhead gets Kristy after dealing with Channard and the movie ends with her revealed Cenobite form. Then she can show up in the sequels rather easily.

Yeah, you’re probably right. Your scenario makes a little more sense than mine. And the best part about a cenobite form is that you maybe could recast her and not get into big a mess for it from fans.

JLAJRC replied: I see no reason why “Friday the 13h” couldn’t continue beyond two films with Mrs. Vorhees as the unkillable zombie that Jason was. We have so few female horror villains that this might actually be welcome. So the zombie would now be skinnier and have breasts? Big deal, it’s not like we’re asking for nude scenes. We could still put the hockey mask on her.

I don’t know. I don’t think I’d buy her as the killer for more than two movies, even if she went the zombie route.

Now it’s time for this week’s edition.

There are a lot of film companies out there, obviously. There’s also a lot of dead film companies. Either they just shut down or their library and rights were absorbed by another company that’s still around today. Some of these were either devoted primarily to horror, or produced and distributed enough of it that some could associate the brand with horror to an extent. For example, Lionsgate produced other types of films, but for the early part of the last decade they were the company to go to for horror. The same could be said for New Line Cinema, which was “the house that Freddy built” for the longest time, even though they also released films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So let’s talk about those. As is the case with these editions, I only focus on the company, occasionally touching on some of the more high-profile releases.

This week, we’ve got New World Pictures.

New World began life as New World Pictures, Ltd., and was founded by Roger Corman in 1970. Yes, that Roger Corman. King of the B-movie and known for being able to make a really cheap film in a really short time. He can get a sci-fi epic done quicker than a porno. So now we have a film company that specializes in producing in B-movies in multiple genres. They mostly handed exploitation fare. If you’ve seen Women in Cages, Death Race 2000 or Cannonball, then New World is behind it.

In 1978, New World would produce their first horror films with The Bees and Piranha. The Bees was a forgettable nature runs amok film, but Piranha was a cheesy fun by Joe Dante. It was made to be tongue-in-cheek, although the remake actually tried to surpass it. The budget for the film was only $660,000, but it did get favorable reviews. The last notable film produced during the Corman era was Humanoids From the Deep. That movie is exactly what you would think it is. The film was a modest financial success for the company, and is now a cult favorite. It was mainly like a 1950’s monster movie with a lot more sex and nudity.

The Corman era would soon come to an end and New World would step up it’s game.

In 1983 Roger Corman sold the company to Larry Kupin, Harry E. Sloan and Larry A. Thompson, who then took the company public. Later that year Thopmson left the company and in 1984 New World formed three new divisions, branching out into home video, television and international releases. The television division produced such fare as The Wonder Years, Real Stories of the Highway Patrol and Spider-Man: The Animated Series throughout it’s run.

In 1984 the company put together a little film called C.H.U.D., which is one of their biggest cult classics and fondly remembered by horror fans today. It was a low-budget monster movie, but it was also notable for having names like John Heard and Daniel Stern. The film was about the titular monsters, whose acronym stood for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. The hobos live under a city and due to radiation turn into the monsters and, you guessed it, eat people.

C.H.U.D. was actually a big hit for New World, it ended up making nearly four times it’d budget and even won an award (Best Fantasy Film at Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film). On top of all that, it’s actually a fun movie! Sure the CHUDs are kind of laughable now, but if you can ignore that you can have a good time with it.

The company would also release Children of the Corn, another success making five times it’d budget, in the same year. One year later, Toho’s The Return of Godzilla would be re-edited and released as Godzilla 1985. After that, another cult classic would be released in The Stuff.

The Stuff was both a horror film and a message about junk food and commercialism. It was about a mysterious substance from in the Earth that was very tasty, very addictive and turned you into a mindless zombie. So naturally corporations sell it as an alternative to ice cream and yogurt, on account of the fact it’s not fattening. It was directed by Larry Cohen, who you may remember as the behind behind such films as It’s Alive and God Told Me To…Kill.

In 1986, New World would acquire the rights to Marvel Comics in addition to Highgate Pictures and the Learning Corporation of America. That same year, they would release Steve Miner’s weird little horror-comedy, House. It starred William Katt as a Vietnam veteran/horror writer who moves into a haunted house while dealing with the loss of his son. It also had George Wendt and Richard Moll who were both in popular sitcoms at the time. House was a big success, making $22 million on a $3 million budget, but the company’s biggest success was soon to come.

In 1987, New World Pictures became New World Entertainment. The company was becoming a force to be reckoned with with all of it’s various ventures including the purchased of Marvel Comics. It almost managed to acquire Mattel and Kenner, two of the biggest toy companies out there, but that fell through. Their movie production was close to swindling down but they still had one big film to release, their biggest in terms of stature, if not financially (it made only a little less than House).

Yes, New World is the company that helped Clive Barker usher Pinhead, the Lament Configuration and the cenobites into the world. For that I’ll always be grateful, as it’s one of the best horror films ever made. Sure, you can argue that it would have possibly been made elsewhere, but this was a film studio that was pumping out multiple horror classics (or at least cult classics) and I feel like that at the time, this was the right studio. Of course Hellraiser was beloved by many, it still is and it was a financial success for the company. Now Dimension owns the rights, but the first two films were produced by New World before they sold off the rights to Paramount (who would then give them to Dimension).

In spite of Hellraiser and later, Hellraiser II, New World was beginning to hit a slump, financially. In what was the company’s biggest horror years in the late eighties (which also saw the releases of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Creepshow 2 and Warlock, all to varying success) the company was having a hard time making a profit from all of it’s various divisions.

There were some flops too, like the Elvira movie and the Dolph Lundgren version of The Punisher. All of this led to a huge financial slump for the company in 1989. This forced them to sell many of their acquired properties. Marvel Comics went to Ronald Perelman, who also acquired New World itself later that year. At the end of the year, the film and television divisions were shut down completely. Only three movies were released after, and only one of them was horror.

In 1990, the other divisions of New World such as Highgate and the LCA were shut down. In 1991, New World released it’s last film with Killer Tomatoes Eat France, and sold most of it’s television division to Sony. In 1993, New World Entertainment became New World Communications, and focused mostly on television broadcasting. That would have a number of network affiliates under their banner. They would strike a deal with News Corporation which would move most Fox affiliates into New World studios. Then in 1997 NewsCorp officially acquired all of New World Communications, making the company defunct. The films and television program library went to several different companies including Warner Bros, Anchor Bay and Lakeshore Entertainment.

And that’s the end of New World. They were starting to gain some momentum until they hit some hard times. This forced them to sell most of their properties and focus on television until they were bought out by Fox. I’ll always remember them for their snazzy logo and the fact they helped give me Hellraiser.

That’s it for me this week. Were you a fan of New World? Leave some comments here or on my Twitter.

Next week I’m going to talk about little monsters on the lose! Gremlins, Critters and everything else in-between. Even Munchies!

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton(Deviant Art profile)

A Bloody Good Time: The Store is now officially open! Like this design? You can now find it on most of my merchandise! Click here to find shirts, posters and more!


article topics

Joseph Lee

Comments are closed.