Laserblast 4-18.2: Netflix Purge, Star Trek and The Awakening on Blu-ray

star trek the motion pictureAlso:  THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY and more HELMLOCK GROVE

Take another tour of horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video with this week’s edition of the Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast. Lawrence French, Dan Persons, and Steve Biodrowski explore the over-hyped “purge” of classic titles from Netflix; review the new Blu-ray releases of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, STAR TREK: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and STAR TREK GENERATIONS; analyze THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY; and explore the ghostly goodies on THE AWAKENING’s Blu-ray disc. And of course, there is the usual weekly rundown of all that is new on store shelves and on demand.

Tuesday, May 7 Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Home Video Releases

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MAMA on DVD and on Blu-ray plus DVD plus UltraViolet from Universal Studios. Bonus features:

  • In-depth look at effects – BD Exclusive
  • Deleted scenes with commentary from Andy and Barbara Muschietti
  • Original short subject with intro by Guillermo Del Toro
  • Birth of Mama – featurette about expanding short subject
  • Commentary by Andy and Barbara Muschietti

FRINGE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

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Hollywood Hits 4-Movie Collection on DVD from Mill Creek Entertianment, including four classic/cult titles from Columbia Pictures (that is, distributed by Columbia, not necessarily produced – resulting in an eclectic mix from the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s):

  • RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE with Bela Lugosi
  • REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN with Peter Cushing
  • MR. SARDOICUS with Guy Rolfe
  • THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN with Strother Martin

Blu-ray Steelbooks (new steel collectible casing for previously available discs):

  • THE MATRIX 10TH ANNIVERSARY (obvious anachronism)
  • LORDS OF THE RINGS trilogy

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

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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.
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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:

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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).

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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:


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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 4-15.2: Antiviral, Ghosts of Georgia, Twins of Evil

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This week’s Laserblast Home Video podcast features a review of ANTIVIRAL, the new science-fiction-horror film from Brandon Cronenberg (son of David), which made its Video on Demand debut simultaneously with its limited theatrical release on Friday, April 12. Also featured this week are reviews of THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA (now for sale on Blu-ray and DVD, two months after its own simultaneous theatrical-VOD release) and of TWINS OF EVIL (available as a wonderful Blu-ray-DVD combo pack from Synapse Films).
We round out the week with a rundown of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles coming to home video on Tuesday, April 16, plus a roundup of overlooked recent releases.
This week’s releases include:

Previous releases include:

  • THE LAST JAWS on April 9. This is a DVD-R, manufacture on demand by, which previously made the film available under the title THE LAST SHARK (L’Ultimo Squalo) back in 2011. The new DVD is $12.99 – $7.00 less than its predecessor – but the DVD-R format suggests the disc would be made from available materials, not a restored print. For that price, you would be better off watching the film through Amazon’s Instant Viewing service for $1.99. As you might have guessed, this is an Italian rip-off of JAWS, which was released in the U.S. as GREAT WHITE – before Universal Pictures sued and got the film yanked from release. Long unavailable, the film offers a few psychotronic joys (e.g., the ridiculously massive 35-foot shark pulling a helicopter out of the sky) that make it a hoot to watch.
  • JOHN DIES AT THE END: now available on DVD and Blu-ray, having made a simultaneous theatrical-VOD debut a couple months ago.
  • PHANTASM 2: Don Coscarelli’s 1988 follow-up to PHANTASM, in a new collector’s edition Blu-ray from Shout Factory
  • FROM BEYOND: Stuart Gordon’s follow-up to REANIMATOR, in a new DVD-Blu-ray combo pack from Shout Factor.

You can find these and other home video release in the Cinefantastique Online Store. You can watch ANTIVIRAL here.


Come Out and Play, Horror of Dracula, The Fury – Laserblast Home Video Podcast 4:12.2

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Cinefantastique’s Laserblast Podcast returns with a very special episode, featuring guest Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog, along with regulars Lawrence French, Dan Persons, and Steve Biodrowski. The podcast of horror, fantasy, and science fiction on home video unearths a crypt-full of recent releases: the new horror thriller COME OUT AND PLAY, in limited theatrical engagements and simultaneously available via Video on Demand; HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), now out in a restored Blu-ray disc from Britain, containing footage not seen in decades; THE FURY (1978) and CHRISTINE (1983), on limited edition Blu-ray discs from Twilight Time; and CHERRY TREE LANE and TOYS IN THE ATTIC, the latter a piece of feature-length stop-motion from the Czech Republic.


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

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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…


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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
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  • 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.

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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.


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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.

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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

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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 4.1.2: Storage 24, John Dies at the End, Struck by Lightening

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Step right up for this year’s opening edition of the Cinefantastique Laserblast Podcast – focusing its sights on all there is to cheer and fear in the world of horror, fantasy, and science fiction home video. Laserblast Episode 4.1.2 (following hot on the heels of the CFQ Spotlight Podcast regarding the new theatrical release TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D) not only runs down the Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and Digital Downloads available on Tuesday, January 8; the podcast also shines a light on a trio of pre-theatrical rentals – films available via Video on Demand prior to appearing in limited engagements on the big screen. STRUCK BY LIGHTENING (from GLEE’s Chris Colfer) open on Friday, January 11. STORAGE 24 (from DOCTOR WHO’s Noel Clarke) opens on January 18. JOHN DIES AT THE END (from PHANTASM writer-director Don Coscarelli) opens on January 25.
Also under consideration are A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the recent Blu-ray release of the 1951 film version starring Alistair Sim; KURONEKO, the black-and-white ghost cat movie now available through Hulu; and PLANET OF THE APES, whose fine Blu-ray release from a few years back is now discount-priced, benefitting those DVD owners who had been reluctant to upgrade. Listen in as Lawrence French, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski tell you all you need to know.
Note: This post has been edited to revise the release date for STORAGE 24, which (based on information from IMDB) was originally listed as January 11.


Laserblast Podcast 3:46.2: Universal Soldier, Red vs. Blue, Jack & Diane, Bava

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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.


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.

Gremlins, Ganja & Hess, Journey to the Center of the Earth: Laserblast Podcast 3:18.1

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Cinefantastique’s homevideo podcast looks at this week’s horror, fantasy and science fiction titles on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD, including a quartet of classic and cult items: GREMLINS, GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, GANJA & HESS, and the 1959 version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, starring James Mason.
The GREMLINS films, directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg, arrive on new Blu-ray discs that port over the old DVD features, with the added high-def qualities of the new format. GANJA & HESS (starring Duane Jones, of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) at long last arrives in a director’s cut, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art and Kino Video. And JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is a limited edition Blu-ray, with video quality far exceeding previous home video versions, released by Twilight Time, the company behind last year’s limited edition Blu-ray release of Ray Harryhausen’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. CFQ correspondents Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski dig into the details, for the benefit of those eager to encounter by carnivorous critters, ’70s blaxploitation horror, and glossy Hollywood adaptations of Jules Verne.
[NOTE: Sound problems with the original posting of the podcast have been fixed.]