Also out this week: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW and SUCK
What’s new in horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video this week? Well, one of the summer’s blockbuster theatrical hits, IRON MAN 2, arrives in just about every format one could ask for: VOD to rent or own, 2-disc DVD, single-disc Blu-ray, and 3-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo. The movie itself was no match for its predecessor, but it has some entertaining elements; at least it might we worth a rental to check out the bonus features.
Also on the menu this week is a new Blu-ray release of KING KONG (1933). This is being touted as the “Blu-ray Book Edition.” It reprises the bonus features from the old DVD box set (documentaries, test footage, recreation of the lost Spider Pit sequence, and audio commentary by Ray Harryhausen and others, a) and adds a booklet with production photos, notes, and a background of director Merian C. Cooper. This one sounds like a keeper (although the existing DVD is so good that I will probably wait a will to upgrade, hoping for a bargain).
Horror fans can dig deeply into the gory horror presented n the Fangoria FrightFest series of titles, which include HUNGER, ROAD KILL, PIG HUNT, GRIMM LOVE, THE TOMB, DARK HOUSE, TH HAUNTING, and FRAGILE (the last with Calista Flockhart, directed by Jaume Balaguero). For those who prefer their scares a bit less violent – but still creepy – there is a new DVD release of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, an effective telefilm written and directed by Frank De Felitta, about a retarded man unjustly killed by vigilante justice, who may (or may not) have returned from the dead as a scarecrow. Bonus Features include audio commentary from De Felitta and a trailer for the original premiere.
Finally, there is SUCK, a direct-to-video title that sounds like a black comedy – about a failing rock-and-roll band that achieves success after encountering a vampire. Malcolm McDowell is on hand as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (love that name), and shock-rocker Alice Cooper shows up as well.
This week offers a slim selection of horror, fantasy and science fiction titles on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Walt Disney Home Video spins another direct-to-video feature from one of their classic franchises; in this case it is TINKER BELL AND THE GREAT FAIRY RESCUE, which is being released on DVD and in a two-disc DVD & Blu-ray disc combo pack.
Fans of the giant flying turtle Gamera can celebrate his exploits with two new double-disc DVD releases: GAMERA VS. GUIRON/GAMERA VS. JIGER and GAMERA VS. GYAOS/GAMERA VS VIRAS.
Synergy Entertainment offers another T-shirt & DVD bundle. THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (starring Lon Chaney) comes with original poster art plastered on a t-shirt, which is available in large and extra-large sizes.
Amazon.com is offering a pair of exclusives offers : multi-title packages of Blu-ray discs, organized according to theme. Amazon’s “The Thrills and Chills Bundle” includes THE CRAZIES, PANDORUM, and THE NEW DAUGHTER. Their “Slasher Horror Bundle” includes RED MIST, HATCHET, BEHIND THE MASK, and JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER.
Finally, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD makes its bow on VOD and DVD, with a Blu-ray release to follow shortly.
Also on Home Video this week: THE BLACK CAULDRON, STARCRASH, RIFFTRAX, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, LORD OF THE RINGS, CARRIE, JACOB’S LADDER
A wide variety of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles arrive in stores on Tuesday, September 14: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blu… (ray, that is). Walt Disney Video offers PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME in three formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and a 3-disc combo back with both formats, plus a digital copy. The bonus features are parceled out in a way that makes the latter the only complete edition: the DVD includes the behind-the-scenes featurette “An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia”; the Blu-ray contains the featurette and a deleted scene, “The Banquet: Garsiv Presents Heads”; and the combo pack includes all of the DVD and Blu-ray features, plus “CineEsplore: The Sands of Time,” interactive feature that allows you to “take control of the dagger and use it to unlock secrets behind your favorite scenes! Turn back time and uncover over 40 spellbinding segments – including ‘Walking Up Walls,’ ‘Filming in Morocco,’ and ‘Ostrich Jockey Tryouts’.'” The only other new title arriving this week is FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, which shows up on DVD and Blu-ray. Bonus features include: four audio commentaries; The Mythology of Fringe; sidebar analysis on six episodes; In the Lab with John Noble and Rob Smith; a gag reel; unaired scenes; and “The Unearthed Episode,” starring Kirk Acevedo as Charlie. On the 50th anniversary of its first appearance on network airwaves, Rod Serling’s classic television show gets the Blu-ray treatment with THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON ONE. The multi-disc set will be packed with extras: audio commentaries from surviving cast members (Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Kevin McCarthy, etc); vintage audio recollections with Burgess Meredtih, Anne Francis, Richard Matheson, and more; the unaired pilot version of “Where is Everybody?” Billed as new for this edition are audio commentaries with film historians and filmmakers (Marc Scott Zicree, Gary Gerani, director Ted Post, etc); a never-before released pilot “The Tiem Element,” in high-def; a TALES OF TOMORROW episode titled “What You Need” (which was also a TWILIGHT ZONE episode); a vintage audio interview with director of photograph George T. Clemens; 13 radio dramas; and 34 isolated music scores by Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, and others. Other oldies coming out on Blu-ray and/or special edition DVDs include the following:
Walt Disney’s THE BLACK CAULDRON gets a 25 Anniversary Special Edition DVD release. Only two new extras have been added that were not on the previous DVD: an deleted scene and a game.
CARRIE, the 1976 horror hit directed by Brian DePalma and based on Stephen King’s first novel, arrives in a new DVD-Blu-ray combo pack.
JACOB’S LADDER gets another DVD re-issue.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING re-appear on Blu-ray
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) is resurrected in a Collector’s Edition. There is a two-disc DVD and a two-disc combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD.
STARCRASH, the Italian, 1979 STAR WARS rip-off starring Caroline Munro and Marjoe Gortner, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD as part of the Roger Corman Cult Classics line.
And if you’re looking for laughs, RiffTrax offers two DVD collections of short subjects: RIFFTRAX: SHORTS-A-POPPIN’ and RIFFTRAX: PLAYS WITH THEIR SHORTS.
Also this week: FORBIDDEN PLANET, DOCTOR WHO, TOMMY, PHANTOM, TMNT, TCM Hammer Horror Collection, and more!
Tuesday, September 7 is filled with more DVDs and Blu-ray discs than store shelves can possibly hold. Not all of them are new titles – many are re-issues – but there are more than enough worthwhile offerings to make a serous dent in a dedicated collector’s pocketbook. Read on, to see what’s in store… SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON arrives on 6-disc DVD and a 4-disc Blu-ray set. Bonus features include “Supernatural: Apocalypse Survival Guides – Bobby’s Exclusive Video Collection,” “Ghostfacers: The Web Series,” Producer-Writer Commentary on Episode 4, The End,” Unaired Scene from Episode 9,The Real Ghostbusters,” and a Gag Reel.
If that’s not enough television for you, this week offers up SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON, which also arrives in a 6-disc DVD set and a 4-disc Blu-ray set. Extras include “Kneel Before Zod” (a look at the Kryptonian criminal), “Justice for All” (the Smallville creative team bring the Justice Society of America to television for the first time), and Cast-Creator Commentaries on episodes “Idol” and” Kandor.”
SyFy Channel’s PHANTOM, an adaptation of the pulp action hero, also makes its way onto home video in the DVD and Blu-ray formats. That’s just about it for high-profile new titles; fortunately, lots of older stuff is resurfacing from the vault.
Horror hounds will now get to see Victor Crowley’s predations in the magic of high-def, thanks to a Blu-ray release of HATCHET; the disc ports over the bonus material from the previous DVD release and adds a new audio commentary from writer-director Adam Green (whose recent film FROZEN arrives later this month). HATCHET 2 is currently appearing at film festivals, so you better catch up with the first one.
Fans of classic cinematic science fiction will want to pick up FORBIDDEN PLANET on Blu-ray. The film has been released on DVD in several forms, including a tin collector’s set, but its lovely production design and colorful special effects demand the image resolution that only high-def can provide.
Three DOCTOR WHO titles arrive on DVD this week: PLANET OF FIRE and THE KING’S DEMONS (starring Peter Davison) and THE CREATURE FROM THE PIT (starring Tom Baker).
Writer-director Ken Russell’s outrageous film fantasy TOMMY, based on The Who’s seminal rock opera, has been remastered and restored in high-def picture and sound for its Blu-ray debut, 35 years after the film reached theatres back in 1975. Unfortunately, the disc lacks featurettes and audio commentary, even though most of the principals are still around, including Russell, Roger Daltrey (who plays the lead), and Pete Townshend (who created the opera and supervised the music).
Previously available titles reappearing on DVD include:
TCM GREATEST CLASSIC FILM COLLECTION: HAMMER HORROR (HORROR OF DRACULA, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED)
Also: CARNIVEROUS with DMX, BRAINJACKED, the RED RIDING TRILOGY, and the Ultimate MACHINE GIRL Collector’s Tin.
Though not as loaded with gruesome goodies as last Tuesday, August 31 offers some exciting horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles on home video, including a DVD box set of DVD of THRILLER hosted by Boris Karloff; a new limited edition Blu-ray disc of Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD (1982); and also THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. The later offers an abundant cornucopia for fans of the CW series: four-disc Blu-ray set and the five-disc DVD set run over 900 minutes, with these bonus features:
Into Mystic Falls: Bringing Vampire Lore and the High School Experience from Page to Screen
When Vampires Don’t Suck!: The Popularity of Vampires and the Fans Who Love Them
The Vampire Diaries: A New Breed of Vampires — Casting the Series
The Vampire Diaries: Vampires 101 – The Rules of the Vampire
Creators/director pilot commentary
The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth Webisodes
Second Bite: gag reel
Downloadable Audiobook of the Bestselling Novel The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith
Anchor Bay’s new limited edition Blu-ray disc OF THE EVIL DEAD is essentially their old three-disc Ultimate Edition DVD condensed down to one Blu-ray disc (which contains two high-def transfers and an all-new audio commentary with director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tappert, and actor Bruce Campbell) and one DVD (which ports over the old bonus features). The 1080p transfers are presented in anamorphic 1.85 and the original 1.33 aspect ratio, with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio. Essentially, this recreated the Ultimate Edition DVD presentation, which also offered widescreen and full-screen transfers (although on separate discs). The only feature missing from the Ultimate Edition DVD is the two audio commentaries: Raimi and Tappert recorded one for the widescreen version; Campbell recorded a separate one for the full-screen version.
For fans of classic horror, the DVD release of THRILLER is big news. The show, which made its debut on NBC way back in September of 1960, has been seldom seen in syndication recently and apparently never available on home video. The 14-disc box set includes all 67 hour-long episodes from the show’s two-season run. Although less well known than THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS, THRILLER offered similar high-quality episodes, with wonderfully atmospheric black-and-white photography; some great scripts based on classic horror literature; and numerous guest stars, including William Shatner (STAR TREK), Leslie Nielsen (FORBIDDEN PLANET), Robert Vaughn (THE MAN FROM UNCLE), Ursula Andress (DR. NO), Henry Daniel (THE BODY SNATCHERS), Robert Cornthwaite (THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD), and more. Bonus features include extensive galleries or production and promotion stills, promotional clips, isolated music and effects tracks for select episodes, and 27 new audio commentaries. Read more here.
Over a week late, we want to mention GODKILLER: WALK AMONG US [Complete Film DVD], which bears an official release date of August 21 (a Saturday – rare for home video, which usually arrives on Tuesday). GODKILLER, which deals with human begins engaged in a war among fallen gods, is a so-called “Illustrated Film,” a format coined by Matt Pizzolo and Brian Giberson that dramatizs the comic book story with illustrated voice performances (by Lance Henriksen, Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, Tiffany Shepis), using anime-style motion graphics. This DVD includes the entire feature film, unedited, including a brand new bonus epilogue, plus PDF files of the comic book on which the film is based. The film is also available on VOD for rent or purchase.
Also available for rent or purchase this week: CARNIVEROUS with DMX, BRAINJACKED, the RED RIDING TRILOGY, and the Ultimate MACHINE GIRL Collector’s Tin. You can find them all below, or find more in the Cinefantastique Online Store.
Also this week: TIME BANDITS on Blu-ray, DORIAN GRAY, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED, Midnight Horror Collections
Tuesday, August 24 is a big day for horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video, with numerous titles ranging from cult films to classics, from traditional horror to cannibalistic zombie mayhem, from television to theatres to direct-to-video. Of course, the titles likely to make it onto most viewers’ lists of “what to have if lost on a desert island” are LOST: THE COMPLETE SIXTH AND FINAL SEASON and LOST: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, both of which are available on DVD and Blu-ray.
With the LOST television series now only a fond memory, ABC has assembled all sixteen episodes of Season Six into nice five-disc set, available in either DVD or Blu-ray, that offers lovely widescreen transfers, 5.1 stereo sound, and some informative bonus features:
A new 12-minute LOST chapter called “New Man In Charge,” which offers a look at what Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben (Michael Emerson) do as the new Island overseers
The End: Crafting A Final Season – Join the LOST team along with other producers of some of television’s longest running shows as they examine the challenges of ending a landmark series
A Hero’s Journey – What makes a hero? Which survivors of Oceanic 815 are true heroes? These questions and more are explored
See You In Another Life, Brotha – Unlock the mysteries of this season’s intriguing flash sideways
Lost University: The Masters Program is a Blu-ray exclusive, BD Live-enabled feature that requires a broadband connection to your Blu-ray player.
LOST: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION is a massive set (36-disc Blu-ray discs or 38-DVDs) that contains over 84 hours of material (5,074 minutes to be exact), including “New Man In Charge.” Other bonus features on the COMPLETE COLLECTION:
One full disc of never-before-seen content
Special edition collectible Senet game as seen in Season 6
Custom LOST island replica
Exclusive episode guide
Plus all episodes and 30+ hours of bonus from Seasons 1-6
As if that were not enough to keep rapacious fans of cinefantastique satsified, this week also sees the Blu-ray debut of TIME BANDITS, the wonderfully comic time-travel fantasy from director Terry Gilliam. Despite the Monty Pythonish humor, TIME BANDITS works as an elaborate fantasy film, filled with memorable images that deserve to be experienced with the clarity that Blu-ray can bring to the home video experience. American fans of the classic approach to the horror genre may be interested in DORIAN GRAY, a 2009 adaptation of of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Starring Ben Barnes as Dorian, with Colin Firth as Lord Henry, the British film was released to theatres in its native land but never scored a stateside theatrical release. Writing for Cinefantastique Online, our own Deborah Louis Robinson called DORIAN GRAY a “well-directed” effort in the style of “old Hammer Horror films.” The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray. George A. Romero’s SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD arrives on home video after a VOD debut and limited theatrical distribution earlier this year. The film is not up to par by the standards of Romero’s previous work (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, DAY OF THE DEAD, LAND OF THE DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD), but fans may be interested in checking out the few new wrinkles he adds to his familiar cannibal zombies. The film is available in three forms: single-disc DVD, a two-disc “Ultimate Undead Edition” DVD, and Blu-ray.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the weird artsy animation experiment NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED also arrives on DVD this week. For this film, various animators were asked to recreate scenes from Romero’s 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, each in a different style. Worth checking out for curiosity if nothing else.
As for the rest:
Echo Bridge releases three themed sets: THE MIDNIGHT HORROR COLLECTION: BLOOD PREDATORS, THE MIDNIGHT HORROR COLLECTION: FLESHING EATING ZOMBIES, and THE MIDNIGHT HORROR COLLECTION: ROAD TRIP TO HELL.
Plus a handful of direct-to-video titles: HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (with Joe Mantegna), METAMORPHOSIS (with Christopher Lambert), THE HAUNTING OF SORORITY ROW, DEVIL’S DIARY, NINJA VS. ZOMBIES, and DIENER (GET IT?).
Tuesday, August 17 sees the arrival on home video of a handful of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles. DEXTER: SEASON FOUR, which reported represents a return to form for America’s favorite serial killer, becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray; plus, there is a box set featuring all four seasons of the Showtime series. FURRY VENGEANCE, the painfully unfunny comedy about forest animals protecting their environment from being developed by Brendan Fraser, can be rented or purchased via Video on Demand; it is also available on DVD and as part of a Blu-ray and DVD combo set. THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN is the second sequel to THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA – an attempt to make a deliberately bad movie a la PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. As if that were not enough, the SKELETON folks offer up DARK AND STORY NIGHT, a spoof of old dark house movies.
So much for new titles. For the budget-minded among us, there are four DVD sets offering older titles compiled together.
The Roger Corman Creature Collection is a two-disc set including such titles as CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, THE WASP WOMAN, LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, and BUCKET OF BLOOD (neither of the later include a creatre, by the way).
The Roger Corman Horror Collection, another two disc set, features THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE TERROR, DEMENTIA 13, SWAMP WOMEN, and SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF (neither SWAMP WOMEN nor SHE GODS is a horror film, but oh well…)
The Drive-in Cult Classics 32-Film Collection offers such gems as LAND OF THE MINOTAUR and THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN in a 12-disc box set.
The Pure Terror 50 Movie Pack provides even more blood-curdling horror, squeezing 50 titles onto twelve discs: THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN, DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF, THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE, and THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN (again!).
With only a handful of titles on display, the week of Tuesday, August 10 is not an auspicious one for home video releases of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films. Fans will have to make do with a couple of cult release and/or some direct-to-video titles. MAX HEADROOM: THE COMPLETE SERIES arrives in a new Lenticular Cover DVD from the Shout Factory. The five-disc set includes all 14 episodes of the cult 1990s series starring Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, and Jeffrey Tambor. Special features include:
Live On Network 23: The Story Of Max Headroom – The creative team shares their stories
Looking Back At The Future: An intimate roundtable discussion with members of the cast
The Big-Time Blanks: Morgan Sheppard and Concetta Tomei reflect on Max Headroom
The Science Behind The Fiction – George Stone reveals the role of technology in the creation of Max Headroom
Available on VOD and DVD, Lionsgate’s PG-rated UNDER THE MOUNTAIN sounds as if it should have been an episode of the old WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY television series: Afte the death of their mother, a set of teenage twins with a psychic bond travel to Auckland, where they encounter a spooky mystery involving mysterious forces beneath an old house. With Sam Neil top-billed in what sounds like an extended cameo, this 91-minute 2009 New Zealand production features special effects from WETA.
The most interesting home video release of the week, at least for fans of cult movies, is THE ROGER CORMAN DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. This four-disc set, in a tin collector’s case, features ten films from the prolific low-budget producer-director. The contents are all over the map in terms of genre and quality, with biker gang pic THE WILD ANGELS rubbing shoulders with horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles like BUCKET OF BLOOD, THE PREMATURE BURIAL, X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES, GAS-S-S-!, and THE TRIP. There’s really nothing new hear – this stuff is available in previous releases, such as MGM’s Midnight Movies series – but it’s a great way to catch up on titles you missed or to consolidate your collection.
After that, the week offers only a handful of direct-to-video titles, including CLONE HUNTER, NIGHTMARE ALLEY, and PROJECT SOLITUDE: BURIED ALIVE (with Eric Roberts).
The week of Tuesday, August 3 offers a hidden bat cave full of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD – everything from contemporary costumed crime-fighters to Corman Cult Classics. Up first is Lionsgate’s release of KICK-ASS, starring Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong. Chloë Grace Moretz, Clark Duke, and Nicolas Cage. Available to rent or own via Video on Demand, KICK-ASS is also being offered on DVD and Blu-ray disc. The DVD is offered as stand-alone purchase and as part of the Blu-ray three-disk set, which also includes a digital copy of the film. Check out more details below:
BLU-RAY DISC SPECIAL FEATURES*
Ass-Kicking Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive) – Synchronous with the feature film, this innovative multi-media presentation incorporates video and audio commentary, behind-the-scenes clips and illustrative graphics with Co-Writer/Producer/Director Matthew Vaughn, plus cast and crew providing an all-access perspective on Kick-Ass
“A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass ” documentary (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive)
“It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn
“The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery
BD Touch and Metamenu Remote
Lionsgate Live™ enabled, featuring extra content for Internet-connected players
Enhanced for D-Box™ Motion Control Systems
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES*
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn
“It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette
“The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery
*Subject to change
If that’s not enough superhero action for you, then check out HEROES: SEASON FOUR, available on DVD and Blu-ray disc. The DVD offers numerous four featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, a screen-saver gallery, and audio commentaries on the episodes “Once Upon a Time in Texas,” “Shadow Boxing,” “The Fifth Stage,” and “Brave New World.” The Blu-ray disc replicates these bonus materials along with bios on the characters and and additional feturette (“Behind the Big Top”), plus the usual array of interactive features for which the format is known: BD-LIVE, pocket BLU, Advanced Remote Control, Video Timeline, Mobile-To-Go, U-CONTROL, PICTURE-IN-PICTURE, and more.
THE GHOST WRITER also hits store shelves in DVD and Blu-ray editions. Though not a horror film, Roman Polanski’s excellent adaptation of the Robert Harris novel, is thematically consistent with the director’s classic horror films, ROSEMARY’S BABY and DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES. The story follows a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) helping a former prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) write his memoirs; unfortunately, sinister forces are interested in the contents of the manuscript, whose previous ghost writer drowned under mysterious circumstances. THE GHOST WRITER generates more than enough paranoid tension to qualify as a “scary movie,” even if the scares are of the thriller variety. AFTER.LIFE – which stars Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, and Justin Long – arrives on Blu-ray and DVD and having had a limited theatrical release earlier this year. Despite an intriguing premise, this morbid little indie horror film with art house aspirations is ultimately disappointing. Bonus features include a theatrical trailer, an interview with director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, and an eight-minute featurette somewhat pretentiously titled “Dwelling Into the After.Life: The Art of Making a Thriller.”
Roger Corman’s Cult Classics is at it again, offering elaborate DVD and Blu-ray releases of exploitation titles of the type that do not normally receive the lavish treatment. This time out we have PIRANHA on Blu-ray and a Lenticular Cover DVD, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP on Blu-ray and DVD, and a double bill DVD of DEATH SPORT and BATTLE TRUCK. The later of is only marginal interest, but HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP deserves its place in history for taking the implications of old monster movies (which inevitably had the monster sweeping the leading lady off her feet) and seeing them through to their logical conclusion. Both Blu-ray disc features a new high-def transfer of the uncut international version; deleted scenes; trailers, TV and radio spots; an interview with producer Roger Corman; and a making-of featurette. The DVD duplicates the bonus material, with standard-def video quality. PIRANHA is one of the best films ever to come out of Corman’s New World Pictures, a fun and fast-paced horror thriller about scientifically altered killer fish, starring Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies. (It is highly doubtful that the upcoming 3-D remake will be an improvement.). The film was previously the subject of a special edition DVD. The Blu-ray ports over the old features (audio commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers) and adds some new ones: a making-of featurette, still and poster galleries, radio and TV spots, and additional footage that was inserted into the version of the film broadcast on network television. As with HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, the DVD duplicates the bonus features; both discs offer a new anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.85), but of course the Blu-ray features higher video quality.
As for the rest:
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH comes out in a new Blu-ray release that ports over the old DVD bonus features, adding only higher video quality and a new game.
PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, the 1951 film version of the classic story about the immortal sea captain, starring James Mason and Ava Gardner, arrives in a new Blu-ray release.
I AM LEGEND is resurrected in an Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set.
A handful of other titles: METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN; HOBOKEN HOLLOW (with Dennis Hopper); and OPEN HOUSE.
Tuesday, July 27 sees 20-something horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles released on DVD, Blu-ray, and/or Video on Demand, including two high-profile (if not necessarily high-quality) theatrical films and some classic/cult movies repackaged with collectible t-shirts (gotta find some excuse to keep re-issuing those public domain titles!). The 800,000 ton kraken this week is Warner Brothers’ release of CLASH OF THE TITANS, starring Sam Worthington. Fans have their choice of the VOD rental/purchase, a DVD, and a combo pack containing Blu-ray, DVD and a digital copy. Although not a critical favorite (in part because of an unsatisfactory 3-D face lift added in post-production), this remake is actually an improvement over the 1981 Ray Harryhausen original, with a good central idea, decent characterizations and performances, and updated special effects. Like the later JONAH HEX, CLASH OF THE TITANS went through extensive editorial revisions, including the shooting of additional footage. (In the original scenario, Zeus remains a villain throughout, and the lesser gods help Perseus to thwart his plans; the theatrical version gives Zeus a change of heart after he realizes he is being played by Hades.) The DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, which should give some idea of what was originally intended. The Blu-ray also includes the additional scenes, plus an alternate ending, in which Perseus confronts Zeus on Mount Olympus. Other Blu-ray bonus features:
Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages: a featurette on the star
Harnessing the Gods: Maximum Movie Mode: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and director Louis Leterrier offer scene breakdowns, VFX breakdowns, vignettes, and a look at locations, stunt work, and the Kraken, the Scorpiochs, Medusa.
Also arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD this week is REPO MAN, the rather dismal tale of futuristic collectors who retrieve artificial organs from recipients who cannot keep up with their payments. Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray disc include:
DELETED SCENES with optional commentary with Director Miguel Sapochnik and Writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner.
UNION COMMERCIALS: See the unique Union commercials used in the film in their entirety.
INSIDE THE VISUAL EFFECTS: Get an “insider’s” look at the unique visual effects used in the film.
FEATURE COMMENTARY: Director Miguel Sapochnik and writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner offer their insights into the film.
Bonus features exclusive to the Blu-ray disc include:
BD-LIVE™: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers and more!
MY SCENES: Bookmark your favorite scenes from the movie.
Pocket BLU™: USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU app uses iPhone™, iPod® touch, iPad™ BlackBerry®, Android™, PC, Mac and other devices to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray(TM) player and offers advanced features such as:
Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the movie.
Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content to enjoy on the go, anytime, anywhere.
Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™ Hi-Def. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard.
Social BLU™: Connect with friends on your favorite social networks to share information about your favorite movies, enjoy Blu-ray™ community features and more!
U-Control™: Universal’s exclusive feature that lets the viewer access bonus materials without leaving the movie!
The animated BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD arrives in almost more iterations than you can count: VOD for rent and purchase, single-disc DVD, double-disc special edition DVD, and Blu-ray disc; the double-disc DVD and Blu-ray are also available (exclusive from Amazon.com) with a limited edition litho cel.
Fans of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD may be interested in the new DVD of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED. This is a sort of artsy experiment, in which different animators were invited to recreate sequences of the 1968 horror film.
Kaiju fans may want to check out DEATH KAPPA, a new Japanese monster movie from th creators of TOKYO GORE POLICE. The story takes the Kappa (legendary Yokai monsters from Japanese folklore) and adds an atomic twist to create a modern monstrosity in the Godzilla mold. The film is available in DVD and Blu-ray from Tokyo Shock Cinema.
If you’re into Italian imports from the gory, glory days of the 1970s, you may want to pull out your vomit bag in preparation for BEYOND THE DARKNESS: BUIO OMEGA. This 1979 Italian voodoo thriller from Joe D’Amato, known as BURIED ALIVE in the U.S., features a score by Goblin. Synergy Entertainment offers up three old titles on DVD, packaged with collectible t-shirts, featuring reproductions of the original poster art: METROPOLIS, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, and ATOMIC BRAIN. Each shirt is available in large and extra-large. By the way, the version of METROPOLIS is one of the old, previously available cuts of the film, not the newly restored one currently circulating in art house theatres.
The week’s other releases include:
STARGATE UNIVERSE SG-U 1.5 on DVD
A new Blu-ray disc of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
PUPPET MASTER AXIS OF EVIL on DVD and Blu-ray
CRACK IN THE WORLD, starring Dana Andrews, the DVD
SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD