Laserblast DVD & Blu-ray: Ghostbusters, Strangelove, Lost, Friday the 13th, Rifftrax

Feast or famine? This week it’ a feast! After two weeks of almost no worthwhile horror, fantasy, and science fiction home video releases, we suddenly find ourselves deluged with more titles than we can count. This week’s big seller is a new GHOSTBUSTERS Blu-ray disc, which replicates most of the bonus features found on the 2005 double-feature DVD box set (reviewed here), which also included GHOSBUSTERS 2. The re-cycled bonus features are presented in Standard Definition: there is an Audio Commentary (starts slow but gets better), nine minutes of deleted scenes (mostly trivial), a ten-minute on-the-set featurette, an eleven-minute cast and crew featurette (recorded for a 1999 DVD release), a special effects featurette, a multi-angle featurette, and storyboard comparisons. The new high-def bonus features include Cinechat, Blu-Wizard, Slimer Mode, BD-Live, A featurette titled “Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car,” a featurette on making the Ghostbusters video game, a slideshow of photos, and a videogame preview. Also included is a set of theatrical trailers, presented in high-def, for films like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and THE DA VINCI CODE.
Other Blu-ray discs topping the sales charts this week include Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; Mel Brooks’ SpaceballsLost: The Complete First Season; and Lost: The Complete Second Season. All were previously available on DVD. The new Blu-ray discs offer improved audio and video quality, while porting over old bonus features and adding one or two new tidbits to entice you to buy your favorite titles again. View an excerpt from one of the “Making of the Pilot” bonus feature from Lost: The Complete First Season.

FRIDAY THE 13TH

Jason is back on DVD and Blu-ray this week. The Friday the 13th remake emerges with even more gore in an Extended Killer Cut, available on DVD and on Blu-ray; the later includes both the new cut and the theatrical version, an Amazon Digital Bundle, and a Digital Copy.
In case that’s not enough hacking and slashing for you, five old titles are back: Parts 2 and 3 are on Blu-ray; Parts 4, 5, and 6 are on DVD.
Paramount’s new Blu-Ray of Friday the 13th, Part 2 contains a lovely 1080p transfer that freshens up the 18-year-old film considerably. We didn’t see the DVD release of the deluxe edition last year, but the image on the Blu-Ray is light years ahead of their previous bare-bones issue. It’s still a low-budget horror picture, and folks should set their expectations accordingly, but we noticed improvement in color stability and detail over the Blu-Ray release of the original film. Read a complete review here.
Paramount Blu-ray disc of Friday the 13th, Part 3 contains both the 3D and flat versions of the film (2 sets of 3D glasses are included). The flat transfer is superior to previous home video editions, but not as demonstrably so as the Friday the 13th, Part 2 Blu-Ray release. The print appears to have weaker colors and somewhat more dirt and print damage than the other titles in the series, though this could easily be a side effect of the 3D photography that more technical savvy people might be able to confirm. It’s not a quite a bad transfer, but if the 3D version were not included it would be difficult to recommend an upgrade from the standard DVD edition. Read more here.
It’s a shame that Paramount didn’t deem Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter deserving of a Blu-Ray release (yet), but the new Special Edition DVD looks quite nice. Though inflation would drive the budgets of future installments up, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter seems practically epic when compared to the poverty row entries still to come, and the DVD’s image reflects the higher production standards. To make up for the lack of commentaries on the previous two Friday the 13th discs, there are actually 2 tracks included here, plus a load of bonus features. Read all about them here.
We hope to get back to you later with reviews of the new DVDs for Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and Part VI: Jason Lives.

RIFFTRAX

RiffTrax – the latest spin-off of the late, lamented Mystery Science Theatre 3000– is releasing ten DVD titles this week.  An Internet venture, not a television show, Rifftrax consists only of audio commentary, with no host segments showing the gang doing skits based on the film. The RiffTrax website sells these down-loadable audio tracks that you can synch up with DVDs you already own. This allows RiffTrax to take on movies without securing the broadcast or DVD rights, so they have extended their reach quite a bit beyond what they could do as Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
The DVDs don’t have this advantage, so the titles being released are older, low-budget films, many of them in the public domain: Night of the Living Dead(reviewed here), Carnival of Souls, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Missile to the Moon, House on Haunted Hill, Little Shop of Horrors, Reefer Madness , Swing Parade, and two sets of short subjects. The budget priced DVDs (under $10) lack bonus features of any kind, but they do offer you the option of watching the films with or without the acerbic barbs of MST3K alumni Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy (interviewed here).
We have only seen the RiffTrax take on Night of the Living Dead, which was better than we feared but still did not convince us that the film warranted the treatment. Others may feel the same about Carnival of Souls, House on Haunted Hill, and Little Shop of Horrors, but probably few will object to subjecting Missile to the Moon, Reefer Madness, and Plan 9 from Outer Space to the usual slings and arrows of outrageous sarcasm – although we worry that Mike Nelson might be running out of jokes for Plan 9, having already provided an audio commentary for Legend’s 2008 colorized DVD (reviewed here). 

BABYLON 5 AND BEYOND

As if that were not enough, the five seasons of Babylon 5 have been repackaged for DVD release, one box set per season. The old DVDs from 2004 are still available at less than half the price. The Warner Brothers website promises that the discs have been “digitally remastred for upgraded picture and sound as well as enticing Exclusive Extras,” but we would like to hear more specifics before recommending that you replace your old collection with this new set.
Also out this week: the animated Transformers – The Complete First Season; the direct-to-video Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories(starring Christina Ricc); and The Sender,an obscure 1998 film with an all-star cast consisting of Michael Madsen, R. Lee Ermey, Robert Vaughn, and Dyan Cannon.

Andrew Fitzpatrick contributed to Friday the 13th section of this article.

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