Cybersurfing: THR's Iconic Horror Movie Gallery includes non-movie image

95d51/huch/2771/01While perusing a brief news bit at The Hollywood Reporter (the announcement of a sequel to the profitable THE PURGE), I happened upon their Iconic Horror Movie Gallery, a post from 2010, featuring images from 16 films. The selection is dubious despite a handful of genuinely iconic titles: there is no ALIEN, for example; but PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 make the list, along with HOSTEL, SAW II, THE RING, and BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. However, what really caught my eye was that, in a post specifically devoted to horror movies, the image of Bela Lugosi as Dracula was clearly from his appearance on stage.
Lugosi’s makeup – the white face, dark lips, and exaggerated brow – is different from his rather more normal appearance in the film. Not only that: although we cannot see the woman’s face clearly, she does not resemble either of the blond victims from the 1931 Universal picture.
Still, it’s a nice image.
Now, if THR could just find a way to get ALIEN, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, and THE SHINING into their iconic list.

Cybersurfing: WGA List of Top 101 Shows declares Star Trek better than Next Generation

The Starship Enterprise from the HD DVD release of the original STAR TREK.Kevin Drum of Mother Jones points us to an interesting tidbit in the Writers Guild of America’s list of the 101 best-written television shows of all time:

  • 33: Star Trek
  • 79: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Drum takes this to be the nail in the coffin of any argument to the effect that STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was better written than the original STAR TREK series, but I always find these lists somewhat dubious because of the difficulty of setting a standard for comparison. For example:

  • Are we talking about the sheer number of good episodes? That would favor longer-running shows like ST:TNG
  • Are we talking about average of quality, factoring the best and the worst? By that standard, an overall mediocre show might rank as highly as a great show that was marred by some bad episodes. This is especially important in the case of STAR TREK, because almost everyone agrees that its third and final season was a misfire. By this standard, I think STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION would edge out its predecessor: Episodes like “The Royale” were bad but not as bad as “Spock’s Brain.”
  • Are we just considering which show reached the highest level of achievement, even if in only a few episodes? By this standard, I think STAR TREK would handily win; there were a dozen or so great episodes that outdid anything STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION ever mentioned.

Regardless of this concern, Drum points out that STAR TREK gave the world more memorable catch-phrases, such as “Live long and prosper” and “I’m a doctor, not a brick-layer.” ST:TNG has nothing comparable.
Other horror, fantasy, and science fiction shows to make the list:

  • 26: THE X-FILES
  • 27: LOST
  • 35: TWIN PEAKS
  • 63: SOUTH PARK
  • 66: DEXTER

Of course, any list that omits THE OUTER LIMITS (the original 1960s version) should be regarded as highly suspect. Likewise, placing LOST and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE above THE PRISONER is indefensible. But at least the voters were smart enough to put THE TWILIGHT ZONE near the top.

Laserblast 4-17: Hemlock Grove & Kiss of the Damned

Hemlock Grove horizontal title
This week, the Cinefantastique Laserblast podcast – devoted to horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video – offers reviews of HEMLOCK GROVE (a new Netflix original series from Eli Roth); KISS OF THE DAMNED (a vampire film from Magnet Releasing, available on VOD before hitting theatres on May 3); ROBOT AND FRANK (on DVD after a small theatrical release last year); and THE FOUR (a recent Fant-Asia film now available on home video). Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski also take a look at the week’s new home video releases for Tuesday, April 30, and offer a couple of titles for suggested viewing.

For those too busy to listen, you will find a summary below:
HEMLOCK GROVE is set in a small town run by a big-wig family, whose matriarch (Famke Janssen) is probably up to not good. Be that as it may, the story is set into motion when a cheerleader is partially eaten by…something. Typical for the soap opera format, many characters and storylines are interwined, and often the narrative stategy (especially during the first four epsidodes, on review here) is to drag things out as much as possible, teasing viewers along with promises of what is to come.
click to watch
click to watch

KISS OF THE DAMNED is a low-budget vampire film with a 1970s Euro-vibe, written and directed by Xan Cassavettes (daughter of the late, great John Cassavettes). Advance word has been possitive, but Dan Persons argues otherwise.
ROBOT AND FRANK offers few extras on DVD, but the excellent film is accompanied by a wonderful audio commentary from writer Cristopher D. Ford and director Jake Schreier.
THE FOUR is a fun-filled martial arts fantasy with a zombie army and gifted superheroes. It is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and instant view.


This week’s video releases include:

click to watch
click to watch

CLOUD ATLAS on instant viewing formats, a week before discs arrive in stores. Read our review of this excellent film here, or listen to our previous podcast discussion.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON THREE on Blu-ray, from Paramount. Extras include: Mission Overview: Year Three (discusses the major changes that occurred in Season Three with both old and new interviews); Selected Crew Analysis: Year Three (an in-depth look at the growth of the continuing characters as well as a closer look at returning crew member Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden)); Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Production (a behind-the-scenes look at particular episodes from the production crew’s point of view); Departmental Briefing, Year Three: Memorable Missions (specific anecdotes about Year Three episodes).

click to purchase
click to purchase

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. If you do not want the entire third season on a multi-disc set, you can opt for this single disc, which offers the Enterprise’s memorable confrontation with the Borg, on Blu-ray and UltraViolet. Extras include:  Audio Commentary with Cliff Bole, Mike & Denise Okuda and Elizabeth Dennehy; Regeneration: Engaging the Borg; and a Gag Reel.
If that’s not enough STAR TREK for you, several of the features films are coming out on Blu-ray:


click to purchase
click to purchase

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS arrives on Blu-ray, courtesy of Shout Factory. The 1970 Hammer horror film, based on J. Sheridan LeFanu’s excellent novella CARMILLA, was previously released on DVD, with an audio commentary from actress Ingrid Pitt, director Roy Ward Baker, and screenwrtier Tudor Gates. That feature has been ported over to the new high-def disc, along with two new featurettes, including the making-of piece “Femme Fantastique: Resurrecting the Vampire Lovers.” (This film spawned two sequels, including TWINS OF EVIL, the subject of a previous podcast review.)


  • SCOOBY-DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED – Dan Personsk, no fan of previous incarnations of the mystery-solving gang, gives the thumbs up for this new version.
  • THE TOUCH: Michelle Yeoh, the great martial arts star, produced this 2002 adventure-romance, which edges into fantasy (a la RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK). It’s funny and engaging, though ultimately slightly disappointing (imagine if RAIDERS had ended with the heroes preventing the Nazis from getting their hands on the Ark!)

You can purchase these and other titles in the Cinefantastique Online Store.

Laserblast: What's Wrong with Redbox Rentals

paranormal activity 4 blu-ray redbox
Forget about getting the unrated version of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 at Redbox.

In an era that sees brick-and-mortar video rental stores resembling dinosaurs fated to extinction, the increasingly ubiquitous presence of self-serve Red Box locations in front of convenience stores and even inside some grocery stores is a good sign for those of us who do not want to wait for Netflix to ship us that latest DVD or Blu-ray disc. Redbox also offers other services, dispensing videogames for Wii, PS3, and XBox, and it recently started offering tickets to select events in Los Angeles. With a $1 price for a one-day DVD rental ($1.50 for Blu-ray discs) and a $1 service fee for ticket purchases, Redbox offers great value along with convenience. Unfortunately, it is not quite perfect.
First, Redbox offers only the latest home video releases. I’m not sure what the exact window is, but the standard “shelf life” appears to be about six months, after which a “last chance” warning is flagged on the title in question, which disappears shortly thereafter. Occasionally, an older title returns (e.g. SPIDER-MAN went  back in the box when THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN opened in theatres; PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is back now that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 is out), but generally speaking, if you are interested in anything more than what’s current, you are out of luck.
And by “current,” I mean something with a recent copyright date. New DVDs and Blu-ray discs of older titles do not get into Redbox. If you are hoping to see that new Blu-ray release of Mario Bava’s 1972 neo-Goth BARON BLOOD, you are out of luck, and you might as well forget about the upcoming Blu-ray of Hammer memorable THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970).
Still, these titles appeal to a relatively small slice of today’s homevideo audience, so I cannot blame Redbox too much. However, there is another problem, as I found out this week when I wasted $1.50 on a rental of the new Blu-ray disc of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4: although the DVDs and Blu-rays available for purchase through other outlets (such as Amazon) contain both the original theatrical cut and an unrated extended cut, the discs available for rent through Redbox contain only the R-rated theatrical version.
To be fair, the Redbox website’s FAQ section clarifies that Redbox does not carry NC-17 titles, but it says nothing about unrated titles. Also, the information on the website mentions the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4’s R-rating and the running time (87 minutes for the theatrical version), and nothing on the artwork suggests you are getting anything else. So I guess it is my fault for not looking more closely before renting the Blu-ray disc.
drag me to hell copyHowever, this is not always the case. Redbox sometimes displays artwork indicating that you are getting something more than an R-rated version. For example, the box art for both DRAG ME TO HELL and LOCKOUT clearly indicate “Unrated Edition,” while the accompanying text shows that the film you rent will actually be rated PG-13. This could certainly be construed as false advertising.
Obviously, there are other ways to view the unrated version of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4. The extended cut is available for rent and purchase through steaming and download services such as Amazon and iTunes, but you will not get the 30 minutes of additional scenes available as a Blu-ray bonus feature. For that, you have to purchase the disc or rent it through Netflix and await the arrival days later.
Obviously, a short waiting period is not a great burden, but it is strange that Redbox would cede this advantage to a competitor. Presumably, Redbox is leery of accusations that children might get access to unrated movies, but they already have a system in place to validate for age, in order to prevent R-rated movies from getting into the hands of youngsters. If the system is good enough to do that, then there should be no additional onus on unrated material, which should be available to adult renters.
Redbox remains a useful service. In addition to their current a la cart rental service, they plan to offer a subscription service that will include four one-day rental a month, plus unlimited streaming through Verizon wireless. But it is unfortunate that their selection is so limited. This is no doubt due to the size restrictions of the redboxes themselves (approximately equal to a jukebox), but if they have room for every piece of direct-to-video junk that comes out each week, there should be a way to include unrated titles and also older titles given new home video releases.
Although it may not be viable to stock BARON BLOOD, TWINS OF EVIL, VAMPIRE CIRCUS, and THE VAMPIRE LOVERS at a box in front of every 7-11 store, Redbox does have an online reservation feature and allows you to create accounts listing your order history and movie preferences. Certainly, these features could be tweaked to move discs with specialized appeal into locations convenient for people who want them.

Laserblast 4.4.2: Frankenweenie, John Carter, Iron Sky, Homicidal

laserblastfrankenweeniejoh copy
Welcome back to another edition of the Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast, exploring the highways and byways of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Films on Home Video – Blu-ray, DVD, Video on Demand, and Instant Streaming. In Volume 4, Episode 4.2, Steve Biodrowski reviews the Blu-ray discs of FRANKENWEENIE and JOHN CARTER; Dan Persons waxes over the Nazi-on-the-Moon spoof IRON SKY; and Lawrence French offers up William Castle’s HOMICIDAL (1961) as an effective pinch-hitter horror film in place of PSYCHO (1960).
Also on the agenda: a look at FrightPIX, the new free streaming channel of horror films available through Roku; and a rundown of home video releases for the weeks of Tuesday, January 22 & 29.

NOTE: If you prefer reading to listening, details of the week’s home video releases are listed below…


Click to purchase
Click to purchase

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 sees the release of three titles that have actually been available on Video on Demand for two weeks through the magic of “Early Release.” This is a new strategy, in which films are available through downloading and streaming services before arriving on store shelves in hard copies. The early release price (for purchase only, not rental) is considerably higher; now that the films are on store shelves, the price for streaming and downloading has dropped, and rental options are available. The films in question are:

  • HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, now on single disc DVD; on triple disc Blu-ray and DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy; and quadruple disc with a 3D Blu-ray.
  • PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4, which arrives in two packages: the first includes only DVD; the second includes both DVD and Blu-ray, plus a Digital Copy and Ultra-Violet. Both the Blu-and the DVD include the original theatrical cut and an unrated extended cut, which runs approximately ten minutes longer. The Blu-ray also offers a half-hour of “recovered files” – basically, deleted scenes – but there are no other bonus features. still has the unrated version available through their Instant Streaming service
  • click to purchase
  • THE AWAKENING: This excellent British ghost story from 2011, which got a small U.S. release last year, is now available on DVD and on Blu-ray; the steaming version is still available here. The latter includes numerous behind-the-scenes bonus features: deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurettes; an interview with director Nick Murphy; a look at belief in the supernatural and in spiritualism.

And speaking of “Early Release,” SILENT HILL: REVELATION goes on sale via Video on Demand and download this week. Expect discs to hit store shelves in a couple weeks.
Also out this week:
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS arrives on Blu-ray combo pack and on DVD and on Video on Demand.

click to purchase
click to purchase

WHITE ZOMBIE: The 1932 black-and-white classic, starring Bela Lugosi, reappears in a newly remastered transfer, available on Blu-ray and on DVD. These discs port over some of the bonus features from the Roan Group’s 1999 DVD (including a re-release trailer and an “Intimate Interview” with Lugosi), but not the excellent audio commentary by Gary Don Roades. WHITE ZOMBIE is a public domain title, available in lots of cheap DVD versions, but this new version from Kino Classics has been digitally restored – which you will appreciate if you recall the Roan version, which was good but still had problems. Source material was a 35mm fine grain master; the raw and enhanced versions are included.
Midnight Movies Volume 9 offers a zombie double bill of HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and NIGHTMARE CITY – two Italian gorefests from the 1980, following in the wake of DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979) and ZOMBIE (1980). The former is also known as VIRUS and as NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, and reuses music from DAWN OF THE DEAD. The later stars actor Hugo Stiglitz, after whom Quentin Tarantino named a character in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.


click to purchase
click to purchase

Since we posted no Lasberblast – either column or podcast – for last week, we will make it up to you by listing the titles this week, but rest assured, you did not miss much. The only new titles wer DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO, which made its direct-to-video debut on DVD and Blu-ray, and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, which arrived on store shelves after a pre-theatrical VOD debut last year, followed by brief, limited exposure in theatres.
Older titles resurrected on disc include several 1980s titles and a bunch of 1990s obscurities from Charles Band’s now-defunct Full Moon Productions. The 1980s titles include:

  • Wes Craven’s DEADLY BLESSING in a new Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray and DVD. This 1981 is from a few years before Craven hit big with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. You can also sense Craven inserting some NIGHTMARE style dream scenes toliven up the slasher-style scenario.
  • CUJO, based on the Stephen King novel and starring Dee Wallace (E.T.) sees new life on DVD and on Blu-ray.
  • THE INCUBUS (1982) with John Cassavetes flts into stores on DVD. The film was directed by John Hough, who has a couple of good titles to his name (TWINS OF EVIL and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE), but this is nowhere near as good. There is some nice atmosphere, but the script is problematic at best, and one suspects that Cassavetes was earning a pay check to fund one of his own directorial efforts.

click to purchase
click to purchase

Meanwhile, the Full Moon titles arrive on DVD are: LURKING FEAR (1994), MONSTROID, SEED PEOPLE (1992), and DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT (1994). The last of these is a mildly amusing horror-comedy, featuring a female demon who ventures up from Hell and falls in love with a mortal man. The basic concept (the denizens of Hell are demonic, but they are doing God’s work by punishing sinners) is actually rather interesting.
That’s all for now. Since Captain Sparky has defeated the flying saucers, all is safe.
Or is it?
Purchase these and other videos in the Cinefantastique Online Store.

Laserblast 4.2.2: The Sorcerer and the White Snake, Paranormal Activity 4 on demand, Dredd 3D TV

sorcerer-dredd-mark copy

Interested in what new horror, fantasy, and science fiction films are available on home video this week? You have two ways to find out: listen in to this week’s podcast, or read on. In fact, why not do both?

In the Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast 4.2.2, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski run down genre titles coming out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video on Demand for the week of Tuesday, January 15. Biodrowski reviews THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE – currently available as a “pre-theatrical rental” with a couple of big-screen engagements scheduled for February 8. Persons explores the potential of watching DREDD in 3D without a 3D television set, by way of the 3D Video Wizard Console, which translated the signal from your 3D Blu-ray or streaming service into a picture that can be viewed with blue-and-red 3D glasses.

After that, Biodrowski offers some home video recommendations for the late actor Jon Finch, who passed away last week. Finch starred in Alfred Hitcock’s FRENZY and Roman Polanski’s MACBETH, both of which are available on DVD and through Amazon Instant Viewing (click here for FRENZY and here for MACBETH). Finch also played the young male lead in THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), which is available on both DVD and through Netflix Instant Video. The DVD (which also contains COUNTESS DRACULA and which you can purchase here) features a nice audio commentary by Ingrid Pitt, who starred as the voracious, voluptuous, and yet vulnerable Countess Mircalla Karnstein. A Blu-ray release is scheduled for April 30; you can pre-order now. Sadly, Finch’s most eccentric and interesting science fiction film, THE FINAL PROGRAMME (a.k.a. THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH) is currently out of print, although old copies may be available for purchase at some outlets.

Next up: a new feature titled “Pinch-Hitter Films.” What are Pinch-Hitter Films? As the name implies (a baseball term), Pinch-Hitter Films substitute in a pinch for other films. If you have watched your favorite classic so many times that you never need to see it again, but you still feel a hunger for the sort of entertainment value it used to provide before you exhausted it through repeat viewings, you resort to a Pinch-Hitter Film.

  • Biodrowski offers up MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935), directed by Tod Browing and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Mora, as a pinch-hitter for DRACULA (1931), directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. MARK OF THE VAMPIRE is no match for its predecessor, but it is a wonderfully atmospheric example of old-fashioned black-and-white Gothic horror, and it does surpass DRACULA in one or two ways (e.g., it actually shows the man-to-bat transformation only suggested in DRACULA).
  • Persons suggests that SILENT RUNNING (1972) is an adequate substitute for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Although not of the same stature, SILENT RUNNING is a sort of unofficial successor to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, directed by Douglas Trumbull, who provided special effects for SPACE ODYSSEY (in fact, SILENT RUNNING’s sequence of a spaceship passing through the rings of Saturn was originally intended for the earlier film).


Not mentioned in the podcast but worth noting here, are a handful of “Early Release” home video titles. “Early Release” is the designation being given to films that are made available to be purchased via digital download or cloud streaming prior to arriving on Blu-ray and/or DVD. The general pattern seems to be a two-week window during which titles are priced to sell, followed by release in other home video formats, including rental options.

The most high-profile early release for Tuesday, January 15 is PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4, which is now available in two versions: the original theatrical cut and an unrated extended cut that adds ten minutes to the running time. (Note: the theatrical version is available through iTunes but not, which offers only the unrated version.) Blu-ray discs and DVDs of both cuts will arrive on January 29.

Also available for early online viewing and download is HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, the computer-animated comedy about the titular establishment where monsters gather to avoid humans, until one stumbles in by accident and falls in love with Dracula’s daughter. The film is currently available for purchase in both high-def and standard-def versions at iTunes; has only the standard-def version. Rental options, along with DVDs and Blu-ray discs, will arrive on January 29.

Lastly, THE AWAKENING – the excellent 2011 British ghost story that arrived in U.S. theatres last year – is also now available for early release purchase. has a standard-def version for $11.99; iTunes has the same offer for the same price, plus a high-def version for $19.99. Again, the DVD and Blu-ray release will occur on January 29, at which time you should also be able to rent the film film through your preferred VOD method, whether digital download or instant streaming.

Laserblast Podcast 3:37.2: Total Recall, Indiana Jones, Bait

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It’s the return of the Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast – featuring news and reviews of horror, fantasy & science fiction available on home video. In this installment, CFQ correspondents Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski look at Tuesday, September 18’s current crop of releases, including INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES, CABIN IN THE WOODS, and the complete seventh season of SUPERNATURAL. Also, they offer reviews of recent releases, BAIT in 3D and the “Mind-Bending” Blu-ray edition of TOTAL RECALL (1990). Finally, they take a look at the 2001 Canadian documentary, THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, a look at horror makeup effects in general and at makeup artist Greg Nicoter in particular; it’s not available on U.S. home video yet, but CFQ fans should eagerly await its arrival so that they can see Biodrowski’s 10 seconds of fame as one of the interview subjects.

La-La Land Superhero Scores

Available for order at

Music by Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion
Limited Edition of 5000 Units
Music by Various Composers
Limited Edition of 3500 Units
Music by John Ottman
Limited Edition of 3500 Units
Music by David Newman
Limited Edition of 3000 Units
Music by Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion
Limited Edition of 5000 Units
ORDER “BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES: VOL. 1: LIMITED EDITION (2-CD SET)” starting July 19 at 1pm PST at and get your CD autographed by composers Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion. Autographs are while supplies last and are NOT guaranteed.
Back by popular demand, La-La Land has re-issued its 2008 sold-out title for the legions of BTAS fans who missed out on this dynamite release’s initial debut. This “second edition” re-issue is virtually identical to the 2008 version, except the bonus tracks “Gotham City Overture” and “Music of the Bat” have been removed to preserve the integrity of the initial release
The thrilling orchestral music from the acclaimed Warner Bros./D.C. Comics animated series BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is unleashed again in this spellbinding 2CD Limited Edition pressing. Composer Shirley Walker (WILLARD, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, FINAL DESTINATION 1-3, THE FLASH), along with Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion (BATMAN BEYOND, TEEN TITANS), and Danny Elfman’s iconic “Batman Theme”, revolutionized animated TV music with robust, full-blooded music that propelled BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES to lofty critical and artistic heights, enriching the The Dark Knight’s legacy. CD booklet features in-depth liners, including comments from writer/producer Paul Dini and composers Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Danny Elfman. Limited Edition of 5000 Units.
01. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – Main Title (Danny Elfman) 1:02
02. Sub-Main Title / Batwing / Bat Attack 1:51
03. Batman Drives To Gotham 1:00
04. Batman Investigates / Batman Uses Infrared /
Police Rush Building 1:48
05. Batman Escapes / Batman Flies 1:48
06. Bats / Evidence Goes Up In Smoke / The Formula /
Dr Jekyll And Mr. Bat 3:01
07. Gotham From the Air / Ride’Em Batman / Epilogue 2:16
08. Sub-Main Title 1:35
09. The Submarine / Joker Loots Gotham 2:35
10. Alfred Loses It 0:58
11. Bat Boat / Batman Catches The Big Fish /
Batman Fights The Bad Guys 2:18
12. Cliff-Hanger Under Water / Batman A.K.A Houdini 1:56
13. Batman The Terminator 2:01
14. Batman Vs. Joker / Batman Vs Joker Part 2 3:47
15. Sub-Main Title / Stromwell’s Flashback 2:01
16. Batman on Top of Church / Stromwell Arrives At Pete’s / Thugs Exit 1:20
17. Stromwell Confronts Thorn 1:15
18. It’s Party Time / Batman Carries Stromwell 0:48
19. Stromwell Sees Joey 1:41
20. Stromwell Tricks Batman / Thorn’s Men Move In /
Thorn Chases Stromwell 3:22
21. Stromwell’s Flashback #2 1:45
22. Batman Cracks Heads / Thorn Removed 1:20
23. Ground Breaking Ceremony / Penitentiary Time Lapses 1:11
24. Batman Catches A Chopper / The Chopper Crashes / Rooftop Chase 1:58
25. Batman Sneaks Around 1:09
26. A Little Plant Muzak / The Carnivorous Plant 0:59
27. Batman Vs. Poison Ivy / Poison Ivy In Prison 3:52
28. 14 Seconds Opening / Jingle Bells / The Joker Blasts Off 1:03
29. Down the Mountain / Sidewalk Red Herring 0:51
30. Pukey Christmas Music / Christmas With The Joker / Game Show Music 2:18
31. The Train Crashes 1:19
32. Observatory Cannon / Cannon Out Of Control / Robin Blows Up Cannon 1:11
33. More Game Show Music / Drive To The Toy Company 1:39
34. Nutcracker Suite Medley 1:24
35. Pie In Batman’s Face / Dangling Hostages Saved / Deck The Halls 1:40
CD ONE Total Time: 62:02
01. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Alternate Main Title (S. Walker) 1:09
02. Harvey’s Nightmare / Dent’s Soap Box 2:24
03. Batman Tracks Dent 2:07
04. Split Personality / Harvey / Harv 4:21
05. Part One Recap 0:33
06. Sub-Main Title / The Heist 1:49
07. Bruce Wayne’s Nightmare / Two-Face Remembers 2:47
8. Batcycle / What About Grace 1:58
9. My Name Is Two-Face 1:52
10. The Great Equalizer / Where There’s Love 4:03
11. Sub-Main Title / Cussing Out The Joker / I Had A Bad Day 3:18
12. Joker’s Hide-Out 1:19
13. Charlie’s Neighborhood / Joker Finds Charlie 1:18
14. Charlie Arrives In Gotham / Joker Collects His Favor 0:42
15. Harley’s Party Source 0:44
16. Crashing The Party 1:33
17. Batman Saves The Commissioner / Batman’s After The Joker /
Charlie Gets the Joker 3:38
18. Sub-Main Title / Conway Is Abducted 0:43
19. A Clue / The Crocodile’s Lair 1:27
20. Another Clue 1:19
21. Croc’s Cave / Killer Croc 2:52
22. Batman Chases Croc / Sewer Fight 2:54
23. Bullock Gets The Croc 1:09
24. Sub-Main Title / The Dream Begins 0:52
25. It’s Impossible / Bruce Sees Batman /
Bruce Watches Batman At Work 2:14
26. My Life Is A Dream 2:48
27. Climbing The Church Tower / Belltower Fight 2:45
28. Your Own Private Wonderland / Back to Reality 2:48
Birds of a Feather – SHIRLEY WALKER
29. Birds Of A Feather 1:54
30. That Fine Roman Nose / Penguin vs. Muggers 2:32
31. Penguin Takes Veronica 0:40
32. The Drop / Rubber Duckie Ride 1:50
33. The Penguin’s Opera / High Society 2:19
34. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – End Credit (Danny Elfman) 0:34
CD TWO Total Time: 67:25
Music by Various Composers
Limited Edition of 3500 Units
ORDER “BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES: VOL. 2: LIMITED EDITION (4-CD SET)” starting July 19 at 1pm PST at and get your CD autographed by composers Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Carlos Rodriguez. Autographs are while supplies last and are NOT guaranteed.
Literally years in the making, La-La Land Records and Warner Bros. proves the wait was worth it with this amazing 4-CD set of previously unreleased music from arguably the greatest animated television series of all time, BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES! Produced by MV Gerhard and mastered by James Nelson, this 2nd Volume 4-CD set takes you through a treasure trove of astounding orchestral scores; music that rivals any blockbuster feature film. Composers Shirley Walker, Harvey R. Cohen, Carlos Rodriguez, Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, Carl Swander Johnson and others are musically represented here, as well as Danny Elfman’s iconic theme. The 36 page CD booklet features exclusive, in-depth liner notes from writer John Takis. Limited Edition of 3500 Units.
1. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – Main Title (Danny Elfman) 1:05
Beware The Gray Ghost – Carl Swander Johnson
2. Beware the Gray Ghost 0:54
3. Simon Trent 1:47
4. Trent Meets Batman* / Trent Runs 1:33
5. He Runs But He Can’t Hide* 0:36
6. Trent Helps Batman* 0:55
7. Lethal Toys* / The Ghost Saves Batman 1:25
8. Toy Car Chase* 0:43
9. Gray Ghost’s Shrine / Mistaken Identity 0:46
10. Twisted Ted* / Up in Smoke 1:36
11. Bruce’s Hero* 0:31
Beware The Gray Ghost – Bonus Track:
12. Gray Ghost Suite 1:24
The Cat And The Claw, Part I –
Harvey R. Cohen, Wayne Coster, Shirley Walker
13. The Catwoman (S. Walker) 4:51
14. Riding the Truck* (W. Coster) 1:01
15. Multigon International (W. Coster) 0:18
16. Introducing Red Claw (H. Cohen) / A Word With the Boss
(W. Coster) 0:55
17. Catwoman at Multigon H.Q. (S. Walker) / Cats in the Office (S. Walker) (Features “Ode to Joy” By L. Beethoven) 1:31
18. Batman Rescues Catwoman* (H. Cohen) / Lovers or Enemies (W. Coster) 3:33
19. Who Will Save You? 0:30
The Cat And The Claw, Part II – Harvey R. Cohen\
20. The Cat and the Claw 0:44
21. The Train* 1:59
22. Bruce Wayne’s Chaperone / A Bumpy Ride 1:57
23. Alley Cat* / Catwoman Strikes* 3:30
24. Bat Draft* 2:14
25. The Fallen Resort* 0:57
26. More Than You’ll Ever Know* 0:46
The Cat And The Claw – Bonus Tracks:
27. String Quartet (W. Coster) 1:01
28. Ode to Joy (Composed By L. Beethoven;
Arranged by Shirley Walker) 0:10
29. Introducing Red Claw (Alternate) (H. Cohen) 0:39
30. Ode to Joy Alternates (Composed By L. Beethoven;
Arranged By Shirley Walker) 0:28
Nothing To Fear – Shirley Walker
31. Nothing to Fear 0:43
32. Machine Gun / The Scarecrow Arrives 1:42
33. The Vault** / Sprinklers 3:22
34. Scarecrow’s Hideout 0:22
35. Scarecrow’s Backstory 0:35
36. Batman’s Flashback / Batman and Alfred 0:46
37. Scarecrow Invades the Museum /
Scarecrow’s Attempt at Escape** 2:13
38. Dirigible Flight / Fear Strikes Again / Escape and Explosion 3:22
39. Scarecrow Discovered / Scarecrow is Captured /
Scarecrow on a Skewer 1:54
Heart Of Ice – Todd Hayen, Shirley Walker
40. Heart of Ice 0:38
41. The Iceman Cometh Again / Cold as Ice* 3:30
42. Top Secret 0:57
43. The Swift Hand of Vengeance 1:55
44. Ice Assault / Frigid Frenzy / Alfred’s Cold Remedy 2:34
45. Arkham Asylum 0:59
Heart Of Ice – Bonus TrackS:
46. Newsbreak (Expanded) 0:44
47. Benefit Classic 1:15
48. Office Muzak 2:25
49. The Iceman Cometh Again (Alternate) 2:53
(Extended) (Danny Elfman) 0:46
Disc One Total Time: 73:54
1. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – Main Title (Piano Version)(Danny Elfman and Shirley Walker) 1:03
Appointment In Crime Alley – Stuart Balcomb
2. Sub Main Title 0:31
3. Batman Drives to Crime Alley / Where Are We Going to Go? 2:23
4. I’m Not Afraid Here* 1:12
5. Searching for Leslie / Leslie’s Held Captive 0:49
6. The Billboard 0:52
7. Baby Picture* 1:59
8. Chasing the Trolley / Trolley Rescue* 1:28
9. Batman Sees the Newstand Clock* / Leslie Sweats / Batman Swings During Speech 1:09
10. Good People in Crime Alley* 0:38
Mad As A Hatter – Harvey R. Cohen
11. Mad as a Hatter 1:00
12. Poor Jervis / Frabjous Day* 2:00
13. A Walk in the Park* 0:38
14. Ejection* / The Plunger* 1:15
15. The Mock Turtle Song 0:34
16. Until Tomorrow* / Will You, Won’t You* 1:03
17. All’s Fair in Love and War* / Mad Hatter’s Friends* /
Storybook Land* 3:04
18. Off With His Head* / The Maze* / Batman Comes to Tea* 4:15
Mad As A Hatter – Bonus Track:
19. Dining With Jervis 1:18
The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne – Lolita Ritmanis
20. The Strange Secret* / Batman Intervenes 2:21
21. Tragic Past* 1:23
22. The Strange Doctor / The Joker’s Phone Message* / Strange Has Left the Building 0:58
23. The Diabolical Plan* 3:07
24. Bruce Makes Another Tape 0:45
25. Strange Tries to Run / Flying the Unfriendly Skies* /
Running on Empty* / Batman Makes the Catch / Robin is Revealed 3:00
I’ve Got Batman In My Basement – Shirley Walker, Carlos Rodriguez
26. The Heist 2:17
27. Sherman Tracks Vulture / Birdseed / Penguin Revealed 1:36
28. Batman Gets Gassed 2:11
29. Batmobile Goes Bats / Sherman and the Batmobile* (Carlos Rodriguez) 2:09
30. The Vulture Flies / It’s a Matter of Life and Death 0:43
31. Vulture Attack / Penguin Pays a Visit 1:04
32. It’s Them or Us / Polite Penguin 1:49
33. Penguin the Bully / Batman vs Penguin 2:20
34. Front Page Penguin 0:41
Feat Of Clay, Part I – Jeff Atmajian,
Shirley Walker, Carl Swander Johnson
35. Feat of Clay* (J. Atmajian) 1:09
36. Mr. Fox’s Resignation (S. Walker) 3:32
37. Matt’s Make-Up (S. Walker) 1:31
38. Matt Finds the Formula (C. S. Johnson) 0:35
39. Creation of Clayface (J. Atmajian) 0:45
40. Bell Goes for a Ride*/** (C. S. Johnson) 1:56
41. Bruce Looks for Answers (J. Atmajian) 0:49
42. Teddy Discovers Clayface (S. Walker) 0:43
Feat Of Clay, Part Ii – Shirley Walker
43. Sub Main Title 0:36
44. Arrival at Imperial Pictures 0:19
45. Man of Many Faces 2:11
46. Suffocation for Fox / Foiled by Batman 1:08
47. Batman Confronts Clayface / The Matt Hagen Films 3:09
48. Batman Confrontation With Clayface / Clayface Dies 4:48
49. The Morgue 0:50
(Alternate Beginning) (Danny Elfman) 0:48
Disc Two Total Time: 78:24
(MIDI Version)(Danny Elfman and Shirley Walker) 1:04
Almost Got ‘Im – Stuart Balcomb
2. Almost Got ‘Im 1:24
3. Pumpkin Patch* / Batman’s Scorn* 1:11
4. A Bad Penny* 1:12
5. Penguin’s Setup* / Birds of a Feather* 2:42
6. Laugh O Meter / Catwoman to the Rescue* / Catwoman KO’d 1:10
7. Shadow Secrets* / Cat Food for Thought* / Maybe Some Day 2:08
Almost Got ‘Im – Bonus Tracks:
8. Club Source #2 0:59
9. Club Source #4 0:57
10. Joker Talk Show Source* (Extended) 0:49
11. Joker Bumper* 0:15
12. Just for Laughs 1:40
If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? – Carlos Rodriguez
13. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?*/ Silent Radio 0:45
14. The Wasteland*/ Rescue Attempt* / Riddler Escapes* 4:18
15. Minotaur’s Myth* / The Griffin /Griffin Fight / Hand of Fate 3:05
16. Hijacked Hand* / The Minotaur / Destroy Them / Deadbolts* 3:06
If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? –
Bonus Tracks:
17. If You’re So Smart Source (Shirley Walker) 2:11
18. Riddle of the Minotaur Source 0:13
19. Griffin Theme 0:09
20. Question Mark Motif 0:08
21. Hand of Fate Motif 0:09
22. Wasteland Motif 0:07
23. Musical Puzzle 0:12
The Demon’s Quest, Part I – Michael Mccuistion
24. The Demon’s Quest* 1:47
25. Sad News / Strike One 1:06
26. Calcutta / Alley Fight* 1:48
27. Black Cat / Sweet Dreams, Kitty* 2:03
28. After You 0:33
29. Power Trooper* / The Demon’s Guard / They Call Him Ra’s* 2:45
30. Strike Three – You’re Out 0:44
31. The Lazarus Pit* / Revitalized Demon* 2:04
The Demon’s Quest, Part Ii – Harvey R. Cohen
32. Recap* 0:52
33. The Demon’s Quest, Part II* 1:26
34. Parted Lovers / Goodbye Beloved* 1:29
35. Orpheus / Lets Do It* / Caravan* 1:47
36. Pay for This Trespass 1:13
37. Lower the Bombs / Crazy / To the Tower 1:10
38. To Remember Me, Beloved* / Countdown* 1:44
39. He’ll Ruin Everything* 3:35
40. Prisoner of Love* 0:57
The Laughing Fish – Shirley Walker
41. The Laughing Fish / Joker’s Insane Scheme 3:15
42. Friendly Fish Truck / Missile Fish / Francis Gets Happy
(Extended) / I Know You’re Watching 1:13
43. Jackson’s Cat 0:57
44. Oceanside Aquarium / Sharkey’s Appetite 2:13
45. Catch of the Day / How Do You Spell Relief? 1:57
46. Batman Rides the Shark / Jumping Joker Sees Jaws / Is the Joker Gone? 3:30
The Laughing Fish – Bonus Tracks:
47. “Joker’s Fish Song” (Features “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Arranged by Nerida Tyson-Chew) 1:03
48. Joker’s Door Chime #1 0:11
49. Joker’s Door Chime #2 0:12
(Alternate Ending) (Danny Elfman) 0:44
Disc Three Total Time: 72:12
1. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – Main Title (with Sound Effects) (Danny Elfman) 1:04
Shadow of the Bat, Part I – Shirley Walker
2. Shadow of the Bat / Thorne on the Roof 2:01
3. Gordon’s Arrest 1:02
4. We’ll See About This / The Evidence Room 1:07
5. Two-Face’s Hideout / The Batgirl / Batgirl Takes Action / Batgirl Gets Trashed 2:37
6. Bad Company / A Different Disguise / Matches Malone 3:56
Shadow of the Bat, Part II – Harvey R. Cohen
7. Recap* 1:19
8. Shadow of the Bat, Part II / Casing Gil’s Apartment* 1:21
9. Robin and Batgirl Follow* / Matches Gives the Signal / Bad Guys Escape 2:58
10. Water in the Tunnel / Water, Water Everywhere* / Saving Robin / Batgirl up the Rope* 1:47
11. Blasted out of Jail / Batgirl Finds Out 1:00
12. Subway Escape* 1:44
13. Rescue of the Commish* / Batgirl’s a Real Drag / Batgirl Sees the Statue* 3:16
14. Welcome to Gotham 0:32
Shadow of the Bat – Bonus Tracks:
15. Recap (Alternate) 1:20
16. Matches Gives the Signal (No Bass) / Bad Guys Escape
(No Bass) 1:41
Harley And Ivy – Peter Davison, Michael Mccuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Shirley Walker
17. Harley and Ivy* (M. McCuistion, L. Ritmanis) 2:57
18. Harley is On Her Own (S. Walker, L. Ritmanis) /
The Girls Escape (S. Walker) 3:18
19. Toxic Dump (P. Davison) / Crime Spree (S. Walker) 1:10
20. Batman Finds a Clue* (P. Davison) / Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (S. Walker) / Locked in Chains (P. Davison) / Batman Escapes Bondage* (P. Davison) 1:43
21. The Joker’s Flower (S. Walker, L. Ritmanis) / Batman Rescues Mr. J* (M. McCuistion) / No More Women (S. Walker) 2:04
Read My Lips – Shirley Walker
22. Read My Lips / Scarface’s Boys 2:14
23. What a Dummy 1:17
24. Drapes for the Bat / Lumber Slumber / No Apples 2:50
25. A Prima Notion 1:14
26. Platinum Vault / Hang in There 1:24
27. Dummy Up / Here We Go Again 3:24
Fire From Olympus – Shirley Walker
28. Fire From Olympus 2:17
29. Max on High 1:16
30. Lightning Demonstration 0:39
31. Sneaking Batman In / Fire in the Sky 2:39
32. Batman Enters Olympus / Snake Fight 1:51
33. Olympus Battle 4:59
(Alternate Beginning and Ending) 0:43
Disc Four Total Time: 66:44
Total Album Time: 291:14
*Theme by Shirley Walker **Theme by Danny Elfman
Music by John Ottman
Limited Edition of 3500 UnitsX-MEN2_CD
ORDER “X2: X-MEN UNITED: LIMITED EDITION (2-CD SET)” starting July 19 at 1pm PST at and get your CD autographed by composer John Ottman. Autographs are while supplies last and are NOT guaranteed.
La-La Land Records and 20th Century Fox present the remastered and expanded 2-CD release of acclaimed composer John Ottman’s (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, GOTHIKA, SUPERMAN RETURNS, KISS KISS BANG BANG) original orchestral score to the 2003 Twentieth Century Fox blockbuster X2: X-MEN UNITED, starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen, directed by Bryan Singer. With a running time of over 112 minutes, this remastered and expanded 2-CD presentation offers more than 50 minutes of music beyond the original 2003 soundtrack release. Produced by Nick Redman and Mike Matessino and edited and mastered by Daniel Hersch, the improved sound and exclusive, in-depth liner notes by film music writer Daniel Schweiger take this noteworthy score to new superheroic heights! Limited Edition of 3500 Units.
1. Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare* 0:22 (composed by Alfred Newman)
2. Opening Titles* 1:07
3. Nightcrawler Attack* 3:15
4. Alkali Lake* 2:03
5. Jean’s Hallucination/Something Terrible* 1:03
6. Newscast/Permission/Reunion* 3:44
7. Cerebro 1:28
8. Sneaky Mystique** 4:04
9. Meeting Nightcrawler* 2:20
10. You Remember Him* 2:32
11. Mansion Attack/Don’t You Remember/Escape** 7:53
12. Opening Cerebro/Bottom’s Up** 1:55
13. Jason’s Story/Harmless Kiss** 3:29
14. Magneto’s Escape** 1:25
15. What Bobby Can Do/Finding Faith** 2:51
16. Pyro Attack** 3:13
17. Xavier Escapes 1:26
18. Storm’s Perfect Storm/Missiles 2:07
19. Fireside Chat/Flashback/Jean and Logan/You Know What I Want* 5:02
20. God Among Insects/Where Is Everyone?* 2:08
21. I’m In** 4:17
22. It’s Time** 3:51
1. The Children/Something’s Wrong* 2:36
2. Augmentation Room (Death Strikes Deathstrike)** 4:45
3. Deathstrike Dies/Magneto’s Old Tricks** 5:52
4. Wolverine to the Rescue** 8:10
5. Rogue Earns Wings** 2:20
6. Goodbye/We’re Here to Stay** 7:08
7. Evolution Leaps Forward** 3:09
8. Suite from X-Men 2 (End Credits original version) 7:11
9. Evolution Leaps Forward (original version)** 0:48
10. Suite from X-Men 2 (End Credits film version)** 9:07
* previously unreleased
** contains previously unreleased material
Music by David Newman
Limited Edition of 3000 Units
ORDER “THE PHANTOM: LIMITED EDITION” starting July 19 at 1pm PST at and get your CD autographed by composer David Newman. Autographs are while supplies last and are NOT guaranteed.
La-La Land Records and Paramount Pictures present the remastered and expanded release of renowned composer David Newman’s (HOFFA, GALAXY QUEST, SCOOBY DOO, ICE AGE) original score to the 1996 Paramount Pictures feature THE PHANTOM, starring Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, directed by Simon Wincer. Newman’s majestic score gets remastered and expanded in deluxe fashion, running almost a full 30 minutes longer than the original ’96 soundtrack release. This is a big, classic film score that covers all the bases (action, thrills, romance) in high style! Produced by David Newman and Dan Goldwasser and mastered by Doug Schwartz, this special, limited edition of 3000 units also features in-depth, exclusive liner notes by film music writer Jeff Bond.
1. For Those Who Came in Late/The Bridge*/Truck on Bridge* (2:32)
2. The Tomb (2:55)
3. The Phantom (5:45)
4. Anything’s Possible (1:32)
5. Conversation with Dad*/Sengh Symbol* (1:59)
6. Microscope*/Drax Theme* (1:58)
7. Sala*/Phantom to the Rescue* (2:34)
8. The Rescue/The Escape (10:09)
9. More Escape*/Escape Continued* (1:42)
10. Must Be the Humidity/I Already Killed Him*/Kit Arrives*/
Horton Sees the Symbol*/Diana Must Leave/New York (4:24)
11. I Never Kid*/The Skull of Tuganda* (1:02)
12. Ray Gets the Point/Sengh Brothers Symbol*/Jade Perhaps* (2:39)
13. Always Were a Mystery*/Jade Skull*/The Museum/Kit Gets Beat Up* (4:50)
14. Drax*/Kit (The Phantom Fights Back)* (2:15)
15. Elevator Shaft* (3:55)
16. Flying to the Island – Part 1**/Inside Drax’s Car*/Inside
Taxi*/Diana Sees Kit* (1:57)
17. Flying to the Island – Part 2**/Quill is Destroyed/Silence* (9:59)
18. Fighting the Pirates* [co-composed with Randy Miller] (5:30)
19. Escaping the Island (8:48)
* Previously unreleased ** Contains previously unreleased material
© 2012 La-La Land Records. All rights reserved.

Laserblast: July 10 Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Home Video

Lockout wide image guy pearce
LOCKOUT - now availabe on VOD, with DVD and Blu-ray coming next week.
Tuesday, July 10 offers little in the way of new horror, fantasy, and science fiction on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD; however, if you are looking to fill some empty slots in your collection, you will find a pod bay full of older titles returning in new editions.

LOCKOUT, the action-packed science fiction thriller starring Guy Pearce, is the one newbie arriving this week, making its Video on Demand debut a week ahead of its arrival on DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday. The movie is not bad, but viewers will need a high tolerance for familiar formula film-making (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK comes to mind, without much mental grasping). Two versions are available, the theatrical and unrated; both are currently available only for sale.
If vampires get your blood pumping, you’re in luck, thanks to the arrival of three titles of various vintage: BLADE II, TWINS OF EVIL, and DARK SHADOWS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SERIES (DELUXE EDITION). The first two are new Blu-ray releases; the latter is a mammoth box set, enclosed appropriately enough  in a collector’s edition coffin.
BLADE II (2002) is the second in the series starring Wesley Snipes as the epynomous vampire-hunter striking fear into the hearts of the undead. The film is generally regarded as the best of the bunch, thanks to the presence of Guilllermo Del Toro in the director’s chair. The Blu-ray disc includes numerous bonus features that will be familiar to anyone who has perused the old DVD: audio commentary, deleted scenes, trailers, galleries, and featurettes. (The one I remember best “Epilogue: Dirty Version,” which Del Toro informally names “Come Removal” – because, apparently, the scene, set in a peep show, had to be trimmed because someone though semen stains were visible somewhere in the dark grungy setting.)
TWINS OF EVIL (1971) is the third in the Karnstein trilogy – three bloody, sexy shockers produced by Hammer Films in the early 1970s, inspired by J. Sheridan LeFanu’s classic novella, Carmilla. TWINS OF EVIL is no match for the original THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), but it far exceeds the lackluster LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (also 1971). The lesbian element of its predecessors is severely diminished, the the predatory vampire countess Mircalla Karnstein reduced to a mere cameo in order to get the blood boiling early on. After that, the film focuses on the conflict between hedonistic vampires and holier-than-thou vampire hunters, with the battle lines drawn in such a way that it is hard to root for either side. The innovation here lies in the titular characters, played by identical twin playmates, Mary and Madeleine Collinson (only one of whom is actually evil). For such an old title, the Blu-ray DVD Combo pack offers some impressive bonus features : a deleted scene; isolated music and effects track; motion still gallery; theatrical trailer and TV spots; a featurette titled THE PROPS THAT HAMMER BUILD and a full-length documentary feature detailing the behind-the-scenes production details, THE FLESH AND THE FURY: X-POSING TWINS OF EVIL.
The final nail in the vampire’s coffin this week is the DARK SHADOWS Deluxe Edition, which includes all 1,225 episodes of the show on 131 DVDs. This old Gothic soap opera is very much an artifact of its time (late ’60s, early ’70s), but the crude production values of the shot-live approach (including blown lines, visible boom microphones, and rubber bats bouncing around on wires) become part of the charm. For all its many faults, there is something raw about the series – it’s like watching a first draft being written before your eyes, and it’s easy to imagine someone coming along later and refining this raw material into cinematic gold (alas, if only that had actually happened!). Bonus features include bloopers, behind-the-scenes material, and over 120 cast and crew interviews. The commemorative coffin contains a booklet with episode summaries and photographs, plus nickle hinges, white ribbon to hold the lid open, and matte and foil coating.
The remainder of the weekly offerings consist mostly of oldies resurrected on Blu-ray.

  • ALTERED STATES (1980) is director Ken Russell’s mind-blowing special effects freak-out adaptation of the novel by Paddy Chayevsky. It’s overblown and over-the-top in the usual Russell fashion, but that’s all part of the fun, and Chayevsky (who removed his name from the screenplay credit) grounds the bombast in serious drama.
  • OUTLAND is Peter Hyams’ attempt to create a gritty vision of outer space as the new version of the old frontier: think “HIGH NOON in Space.” Thanks to performances by Sean Connery and Peter Boyle, the result is entertaining viewing.
  • COMA is writer-director Michael Crichton’s adaptation of Robin Cook’s medical thriller about black market body parts; there is some queasy suspense, but the film falls short of Crichton’s best work.
  • BRAINSTORM represents one of special effects guru Douglas Trumbull’s few directorial efforts; although tarnished by the death of star Natalie Wood, the film is not a complete bust, offering some splendid visual riches in its depiction of a device that allows the recording and experiencing of other people’s mental stats.

Also on the menu this week: FREQUENCY, SPAWN, and on DVD, WAREHOUSE 13: SEASON THREE.
You can find all of these titles in the Cinefantastique Online Store.


Naboo_celebration copy

With STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE returning to theatres in a new 3-D version, we flashback to May, 1999 for my preview report that appeared in Cinefantastique’s cover story on the film.

A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away…
Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute. Hoping to resolve the matter with the blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.
While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace, to settle the conflict.
A disheveled boy, ANAKIN SKYWALKER, runs in from the junk yard. He is about nine years old, very dirty, and dressed in rags.

So opens STAR WARS, EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE, George Lucas eagerly awaited first chapter in the STAR WARS saga. When Lucas first began work on the script, back in 1995, he only had some brief notes. Lucas explained to Lynne Hale, the publicist for The Phantom Menace, that the original outline for the three prequels was only about 15 pages long. “The whole early part was written to set up the (first Star Wars) films that were made,” observed Lucas. “I had to sort of figure out who everybody was, where they came from, how they got to be where they were, and what the dynamic relationships were between everybody.”
Lucas took his outline and began work by expanding it to include approximately 50 scenes for each of the three prequels. “I basically have to come up with 150 scenes,” asserted Lucas. “If I come up with a few a day, towards the end of the process, I will really start going through the outline and filling in all the blanks—finishing it and putting in all the detail and that sort of thing. Then I start the hard part, the actual writing of the pages.”
By beginning with such a rough outline, Lucas had the freedom to change characters and situations, none of which were ever set in stone in the first place. Lucas further explained the flexible nature of his scripting process, stating, “when I have an idea for a character, usually the character comes alive and metamorphoses into something else, or another kind of character. If you take the first draft of Star Wars, you can find the central characters that always existed, but they had different names, shapes or sizes. But the core of the character is still there and growing. It’s just trying to find the right persona to carry forward that personality.” A good example of this occurred in early drafts of Star Wars, where the character of Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) was the leader of the rebellion on Yavin who comes up with the idea of using small fighter ships to attack the Death Star. In the final script Lucas has transformed Tarkin into the ruthless agent of the Emperor, making him the actual builder of the Death Star rather than one of it’s attackers.
With such a slim outline for the three prequels, it’s not much of a surprise to hear Lucas’ revelation that there was never any story material for the final three sequels—the ones that were supposed to continue the nine part saga after the ending of Return of the Jedi. “It really ends at part six,” Lucas told Vanity Fair. “When you see it in six parts you’ll understand. I never had a story for the sequels.” Of course, it was Lucas himself who always maintained there was at least an outline for the final three chapters (episodes 7, 8 and 9). It appears the real reason for his abrupt abandonment of the Force is that in May of 2005 (when the last of the current trilogy is scheduled for release), Lucas will turn 61. “I’ll be at a point in my age where to do another trilogy would take 10 years,” said Lucas. “My oldest daughter was born during Return of the Jedi and since then I slowed down quite a bit. I focused more on my family and making The Phantom Menace is the first time I will go back and try to do a movie of this scale, with this much intensity.”
One of the reasons Lucas embarked on the current set of prequels, was due to the new advances in technology he can utilize. “I get to do a lot of things now, that I couldn’t do before,” explained Lucas. “I can create things that weren’t possible to create before. I was always—and I will be on The Phantom Menace—at the limit of what is possible in terms of storytelling. Things have advanced so far in the last 20 years, in terms of your ability to portray things on the screen.”
Lucas also noted in a recent article for Premiere, that digital technology will allow him to get closer to his grandiose vision. “The idea of being able to explore my imagination and make it literal is exciting,” noted Lucas. “It moves me forward to try to get my visions onto the screen. When I was young, I had ambitions for some things to be brilliant, and when it came out less than brilliant, I was very upset about it. Who knows, maybe it’s better that way—because the things that have come out exactly the way I wanted them, have not been very successful. I think I’ll be able to get closer to what I imagine things to be like with this film.”
Among the many new treats Lucas has promised for The Phantom Menace, is the portrayal of the Jedi Knights in the days when there were thousands of them to guard the peace and justice of the Galaxy. The two Jedi Knights sent to Naboo at the outset of the story are the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Obi-Wan’s mentor, who also holds a seat on the Jedi council (along with Yoda). Lucas disclosed some Jedi characteristics, while talking to Lynne Hale: “The Jedi are like negotiators,” explained Lucas. “They aren’t people that go out and blow up planets, or shoot down things. They’re more of a one to one combat type. In The Phantom Menace I wanted the form of the fighting and the role of the Jedi Knight to be special. More spiritual and more intellectual than just something like a fighter or a superhero.”
In an effort to top the light saber battles of the first Star Wars movies, Lucas is attempting to bring a more dynamic element to the new swordplay that will be occurring between the Jedi masters and their chief opponent, the maleficent Darth Maul, played by martial arts expert Ray Park. “I was looking for the kind of sword-fighting we had already done,” said Lucas, “but I wanted a more energized version of it, because we actually never really saw the Jedi’s at work—we’d only seen old men (Obi-Wan), crippled half-droid, half-men (Darth Vader), and young boys (Luke). To see the Jedi fighting in their prime, I wanted a much more energetic and faster version of what we’d been doing.”
The action of the new film will take place largely on three planets: The already familiar desert planet of Tatooine, where the 9 year old Anakin Skywalker is growing up; On Naboo, home to the royal Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), as well as several swamp-dwelling creatures, such as the Nuna (a flightless bird, similar to an ostrich, but without the long neck) and the Peko Peko (a Pterodactyl-like bird with an immense wing-span); and finally, on Coruscant, the capitol of the Galactic Republic, where both the Senate and the Jedi Council convene. Interestingly enough, Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who eventually becomes the Emperor—by his plotting with the Dark Lords of the Sith—represents Naboo in the Galactic Senate and is still shown as a benign presence in The Phantom Menace. The actual design of Coruscant was previewed in a brief shot seen at the end of the Return of the Jedi special edition, and it promises to be a truly spectacular city, full of streamlined ultra modern skyscrapers, jutting several miles into the sky. The Jedi Council deliberates in a circular dome room at the top of an imposing temple that looks vaguely like the Chrysler Building, but with huge windows, that afford breathtaking views of Coruscant.
As each new morsel of information about The Phantom Menace slowly leaks out, all the hype may eventually cause overwhelming expectations, that may be very hard to meet. Then, inevitably, the success engendered by the film will generate a backlash of criticism. For his part, Lucas professes these high expectations are not really affecting how he’s making the movie. “The fact that the film is so anticipated,” exclaims Lucas, “allows me the freedom to be creative, in the way I’d like to be creative, without having to worry about what people think. On one level, I’m going to get slaughtered, no matter what I do. On another level, some people will like it. After you make a lot of movies, no matter what you do, you’re going to get trashed on one side, while some people are going to love it.”