The Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast returns, bringing you news and reviews of the latest horror, fantasy, and science fiction films on home video – DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and instant streaming. Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski take a look at new releases for Tuesday, November 20, including the Japanese anime title GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, now on Blu-ray for the first time, and the DOCTOR WHO LIMITED EDITION GIFT SET on DVD (featuring the three most recent doctors: Matt Smith, David Tennant, and Christopher Eccleston).
But wait, there’s more! Dan Persons reviews Season 10 of RED VS. BLUE. Steve Biodrowski reviews two films in limited theatrical release that are also currently available via Video on Demand: JACK & DIANE (a teen romance with weird, artsy horror elements spliced in) and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (the film that asks whether the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER franchise can successfully incorporate elements of MEMENTO and APOCALYPSE NOW). And things wrap up with a look at some titles from the late Italian horror specialist Mario Bava, which have recently become available on Netflix Instant Viewing.
Give REGULAR SHOW creator J.G. Quintel credit for coming up with a title that works in ironic counterpoint to itself. On the one hand, the Cartoon Network series is an examination of young people entering the workforce in modern America, with all the friction, tension, and social and moral quandaries that might ensue. On the other, said young people include a giant blue jay, his best-friend raccoon, and their boss, a giant, walking gumball machine, and situations that start as prosaically as an argument over Internet access time and the desire to forge a cool identity for oneself soon acquire such irregular aspects as visits from interplanetary basketball gods and assaults by far-future Terminators. Yep, starting a career in this world is harder than you imagined.
I got to sit down with J.G. Quintel to talk about unusual challenges of being regular. Click on the player to hear the show.
On Tuesday, August 28, BATTLESHIP arrives on home video in multiple formats: Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD. The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a digital cop of the film, for use on mobile devices, along with UltraViolet, which allows you to collect your movies on the could, from which you can stream and download them to computers, tablets or smart phones. The Blu-ray disc also contains extensive bonus features:
Alternate Ending Pre-visualization with commentary by Peter Berg
The Visual Effects of Battleship – From ground-breaking water-simulation programs to cutting-edge motion capture, see how the team at Industrial Light & Magic pushes the boundaries of visual effects to bring the aliens to life.
All Access with Director Peter Berg – Join director Peter Berg as he gives fans an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.
USS Missouri VIP Tour – Come aboard the historic “Mighty Mo” for an exclusive tour with director Peter Berg and actual Navy veterans as they reveal some of the coolest facts and amazing action that has graced the decks of this legendary ship.
Commander Pete – Watch as director Peter Berg energizes the cast and crew with his endless enthusiasm and relentless good humor.
And with UNIVERSAL’S SECOND SCREEN, viewers can enjoy an innovative and interactive viewing experience, that allows them to control, interact and explore Battleship with groundbreaking features right on a networked tablet or computer, in synchronization with the movie on the television screen! While the movie plays, experience features such as:
Alien Tech 3D Model Turntable Explosions: During the movie, 3D models of the aliens and the shredder become available to the user to view at various angles. For instance, as the user turns the Regent Alien, the armor flies off in parts and then re-assembles. (Exclusive to Second Screen.)
All Access with Director Peter Berg: Viewers get an all access look at the making of the film featuring interviews with cast and crew.
Flick View: Interact with the movie, move content from the Tablet to the TV screen, and compare storyboards, animatics, and other executing content by “Flicking” them from on their tablet to their TV screen, simply by gesturing their fingers upwards on their tablets.
In a break with tradition, Lionsgate is release THE HUNGER GAMES in all home video formats (Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and Digital Download) – not on a Tuesday but at a minute past midnight on the morning of Saturday, August 18. The strategy is designed to generate lines of eager fans at midnight retail events around the country. The film, which earned $400-million in the USA alone and nearly $650-million worldwide, will appear on store shelves as both a 2-disc DVD set and a 2-disc Blu-ray set, with over three hours of bonus features, including an eight-part documentary, THE WORLD IS WATCHING THE HUNGER GAMES. List price for the Blu-ray discs is $39.99, with the DVDs selling for $30.99.
NOTE: You can see excerpts from some of the bonus features in the video playlist embedded at the bottom of this post. BLU-RAY & DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (subject to change):
“The World is Watching: Making of The Hunger Games” – an eight-part documentary covering the “making of” the film in all aspects from the pre-production process all the way through the theatrical release and fan reactions
“Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon” featurette
“Letters from the Rose Garden” featurette – insights from Donald Sutherland on the development of his role as President Snow
“Controlling the Games” featurette – stories and concepts behind creating the control center
“A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell”
Propaganda Film (in its entirety)
“Preparing for The Games: A Director’s Process” (Blu-ray Exclusive)
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.
Our listeners make their voices heard in this final episode of the Ultra-Lounge (at least in this incarnation): We hear from our listener in Latvia, who gives us some insight into his life; another listener rushes to the defense of the Dino De Laurentiis KING KONG; and an e-mail addressing how DREAM HOUSE’s trailer actually drops the film’s Big Reveal prompts a discussion of how spoilers should be treated during the show. Plus: Dan takes a favorable glance at the new THUNDERCATS animated series and Steve opens up the Tea Party can o’ worms once more.
Eliza Dushku, who voiced Selina Kyle, presents this DC Showcase CATWOMAN clip from BATMAN YEAR ONE for MTV.
BATMAN: YEAR ONE is due out on DVD and Blu-Ray October 18th from Warner Bros. Home Video., and includes the 15 minute short.
On his Twitter feed author Clive Barker let his feelings about Dimension Extreme’s HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS be known. And he wasn’t pulling any punches.
It seems REVELATIONS was made to keep the film rights intact, and from possibly reverting to Barker, who signed away the rights to the characters and storyline from his story The Hell-Bound Heart when he made the deal to direct the first HELLRAISER film.
This is the first HELLRAISER to have an actor other than Doug Bradley play the daemonic Pinhead character. His replacement, Stephan Smith Collins, doesn’t seem particularly impressive in the role, jugding from the equally underwhelming trailer. Apprently there’s also a “Psuedo-Pinhead” in the film, a new recruit to the Cenobites.
Perhaps the finished product will be more to fans of the original’s tastes. Or not.
HELLRAISER: REVELATIOS is set to be released direct-to-video October 18th, directed by Victor Garcia from a script by Gary Tunnicliffe.
NEW PEOPLE Entertainment, a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. that focuses on the licensing and distribution of Japanese films and media, will delight sci-fi, action and anime/manga fans across North America with the release of GANTZ on DVD (SRP $24.92) and Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack(SRP $29.99) on August 30th. The film, which is unrated, features both English and Japanese dialogue options and a bonus disc with an exclusive director’s interview and film trailers.
To celebrate the film’s release, a special screening of GANTZ is scheduled for Friday, August 26th at 7:00pm in San Francisco at NEW PEOPLE’s Cinema as part of the 2011 J-Pop Summit Festival. The film will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles. Get a great deal by purchasing a ticket bundle that also includes the brand-new DVD or Blu-ray plus a poster. Tickets and more information are available at http://www.newpeopleworld.com/films.
In addition, the San Francisco theatrical premiere of GANTZ II: Perfect Answer will also take place during the J-Pop Summit Festival on both Saturday, August 27th and Sunday August 28th. The film will also be shown in Japanese with English subtitles. Complete details on the J-Pop Summit are available at: www.J-Pop.com.
GANTZ is based on a hit manga series created by Hiroya Oku and stars leading Japanese actors Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City). The film tells the story of two childhood friends that are accidentally killed while trying to save another man’s life. Rather than find themselves in the hereafter, however, they awaken in a strange apartment in which they find a mysterious black orb they come to know as “GANTZ.” Along with similar abductees, they are provided with equipment and weaponry and manipulated into playing a kind of game in which they are sent back out to the greater world to do battle with alien beings, all while never quite knowing whether this game is an illusion or their new reality.
“GANTZ first thrilled domestic audiences when we presented the film theatrically in a special one-night-only premiere at over 300 movie theatres nationally earlier this year that was attended by thousands of people across North America,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “Anticipation has risen steadily since then and fans now have the exclusive opportunity to own the film on DVD and Blu-ray with our release on August 30th. GANTZ features two of the biggest stars in Japanese cinema and remains true to the innovative storyline from the original manga series. Fans won’t want to miss this exciting release and stay tuned for news coming soon on the upcoming release of the film’s action-packed sequel, GANTZ II: Perfect Answer!”
Here’s a sneak peek at BATMAN: YEAR ONE from Warner Brothers Home Video’s DC Universe direct to video line.
Based on the DC comic book by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
Co-directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery, the voice cast incluses Ben McKenzie as Batman, Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD) as Lt. James Gordon, Eliza Dushku (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Katee Sackhoff (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) as Detective Sarah Essen.
Due out Septembet 27th.