RiffTrax mocks BIRDEMIC – Live

On October 25, the RiffTrax crew will unload a shotgun full of barbs, quips, and putdowns, aimed at BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR, the 2006 camp-fest that earned itself a not-so-distinguished place on the all-time-worst films list – a distinction that, ironically, earned the film a nationwide series of screenings a few years ago. The riotous riffing will take place during a live screening, broadcast to theatres across the country by Fathom Events. The live screening starts at 8:00pm on the east coast and 7:00pm Central Time; it will be tape delayed for presentation at 7:00pm Moutain Time and 8:00pm  on the west coast.
Whether the RiffTrax comedy team of Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy can possibly surpass the unintentional hilarity of BIRDEMIC is an open question, but you can listen to a sample of their recorded commentary by watching the embedded video.
This is not the first time they have taken their patented brand of irreverent humor to theatres: they have live-riffed on such films as THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959), JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962), and MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, the execrably bad horror film previously lambasted on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.
Click here for a list of theatres where you can see RiffTrax take potshots at BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.
Read more details from the press release:

Centennial, Colo. – August 20, 2012 – NCM® Fathom Events, RiffTrax and IGN present “RiffTrax Live: BIRDEMIC” in movie theaters for only one night on Thursday, October 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT and tape delayed at 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. PT. The famed comedians from the cult classic “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (MST3K)—Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett—will reunite on the big screen to fire off their wisecracking commentary on “BIRDEMIC,” a modern classic in the pantheon of so-bad-it’s-good cinema. The hilarious riffing on this spine-tingling “thriller” will be broadcast LIVE from Nashville to participating movie theaters across the country—just in time for Halloween.
Tickets for “RiffTrax Live: BIRDEMIC” are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the NCM Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change). The event will be broadcast to more than 550 select movie theaters across the country through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network.
“I don’t know what it is about ‘BIRDEMIC’—terrible acting, terrible sound, terrible directing, terrible editing—and yet there’s some sort of secret bad movie ingredient I can’t put my finger on that makes this simply one of the most fun bad movies of all time,” said Michael J. Nelson, RiffTrax creator and former host of the Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Directed by James Nguyen in 2006, “BIRDEMIC” is the story of Rod, a young software salesman on the brink of launching a solar panel business in Silicon Valley. Things really seem to be going Rod’s way, especially when he reconnects with beautiful high school classmate Nathalie, a model who Victoria’s Secret chooses out of the blue to be their new cover girl. Their unbelievably perfect world is shattered by a sudden, unexplained bird attack. The vultures team up with the eagles, and begin dropping caustic liquids and exploding like bombs (really!). Rod and Nathalie find themselves on a terror-filled ride up and down the coast, fighting off the vicious birds with their wits and…coat hangers. Yes, coat hangers.
Previous successful Fathom and RiffTrax events have included “RiffTrax Live: ‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate” in August 2012, mocking what many think is one of the most terrible films ever; “RiffTrax Live: Jack the Giant Killer” in August 2011, a hilarious riff of the cheesy 1962 fantasy epic featuring giant rubber monsters and a leprechaun in a jar; “RiffTrax Live: House on Haunted Hill” in October 2010, which took on the Vincent Price horror classic just in time for Halloween; “RiffTrax Live: Reefer Madness” in August 2010, parodying the legendary cult classic; “RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space” in August 2009, skewering what is widely considered to be the “worst film ever made”; and “RiffTrax Live: Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza” in December 2009, featuring “Weird Al” Yankovic.
“For fans of RiffTrax and MST3K, there’s nothing like experiencing Mike, Kevin and Bill live on the big screen,” said Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of NCM Fathom Events. “Having the guys back again for this specially produced ‘BIRDEMIC’ event should take ‘riffing’ fans to a new level of laughter in theaters across the U.S.”

Laserblast, September 14: Prince of Persia, Fringe, The Twilight Zone


click to purchase
click to purchase

A wide variety of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles arrive in stores on Tuesday, September 14: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blu… (ray, that is). Walt Disney Video offers PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME in three formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and a 3-disc combo back with both formats, plus a digital copy. The bonus features are parceled out in a way that makes the latter the only complete edition: the DVD includes the behind-the-scenes featurette “An Unseen World: Making Prince of Persia”; the Blu-ray contains the featurette and a deleted scene, “The Banquet: Garsiv Presents Heads”; and the combo pack includes all of the DVD and Blu-ray features, plus “CineEsplore: The Sands of Time,” interactive feature that allows you to “take control of the dagger and use it to unlock secrets behind your favorite scenes! Turn back time and uncover over 40 spellbinding segments – including ‘Walking Up Walls,’ ‘Filming in Morocco,’ and ‘Ostrich Jockey Tryouts’.'”
The only other new title arriving this week is FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, which shows up on DVD and Blu-ray. Bonus features include: four audio commentaries; The Mythology of Fringe; sidebar analysis on six episodes; In the Lab with John Noble and Rob Smith; a gag reel; unaired scenes; and “The Unearthed Episode,” starring Kirk Acevedo as Charlie.
On the 50th anniversary of its first appearance on network airwaves, Rod Serling’s classic television show gets the Blu-ray treatment with THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON ONE. The multi-disc set will be packed with extras: audio commentaries from surviving cast members (Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Kevin McCarthy, etc); vintage audio recollections with Burgess Meredtih, Anne Francis, Richard Matheson, and more; the unaired pilot version of “Where is Everybody?” Billed as new for this edition are audio commentaries with film historians and filmmakers (Marc Scott Zicree, Gary Gerani, director Ted Post, etc); a never-before released pilot “The Tiem Element,” in high-def; a TALES OF TOMORROW episode titled “What You Need” (which was also a TWILIGHT ZONE episode); a vintage audio interview with director of photograph George T. Clemens; 13 radio dramas; and 34 isolated music scores by Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, and others.
Other oldies coming out on Blu-ray and/or special edition DVDs include the following:

  • Walt Disney’s THE BLACK CAULDRON gets a 25 Anniversary Special Edition DVD release. Only two new extras have been added that were not on the previous DVD: an deleted scene and a game.
  • CARRIE, the 1976 horror hit directed by Brian DePalma and based on Stephen King’s first novel, arrives in a new DVD-Blu-ray combo pack.
  • JACOB’S LADDER gets another DVD re-issue.
  • THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) is resurrected in a Collector’s Edition. There is a two-disc DVD and a two-disc combo pack with Blu-ray and DVD.
  • STARCRASH, the Italian, 1979 STAR WARS rip-off starring Caroline Munro and Marjoe Gortner, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD as part of the Roger Corman Cult Classics line.

And if you’re looking for laughs, RiffTrax offers two DVD collections of short subjects: RIFFTRAX: SHORTS-A-POPPIN’ and RIFFTRAX: PLAYS WITH THEIR SHORTS.

The Alternate Worlds of Recycled Sci-Fi Footage: CFQ Post-Mortem Podcast 1:27.1

post-mortem podcast graphi copy

After a passionate discussion of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski leave the recorder running as they delve deeply into the minutia of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. This week focuses on films that recycle plots and/or footage to create alternate versions and/or whole new movies:

  • Digging for GOLD, the 1934 German science-fiction film cannibalized for the final act of the low-budget 1953 sci-fi flick THE MAGNETIC MONSTER
  • SUPERMAN II: The Donner Cut on DVD

Also, the RiffTrax version of CARNIVAL OF SOULS, Cinematic Titanic, and listener mail on the joys of Mario Bava and the wisdom of target release dates .


RiffTrax: Carnival of Souls DVD review

Carnival of Souls (1962) horizontalCARNIVAL OF SOULS is a film that, like NOSFERATU (1922), seems to benefit from an eternally self-perpetuating reputation somewhat divorced from its actual quality. CARNIVAL OF SOULS is the sort of film that finds its truest expression not on the screen but in the memory, where its best scenes linger, dream-like and evocative, mentally edited from the poorly paced whole. There is a nightmare quality to its best scenes, which cannot be denied, but if you go back and watch it again, or encounter it for the first time after knowing it by reputation only, you will be disappointed to see what is essentially a great half-hour TWILIGHT ZONE story padded out to feature length.
In fact, CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) tells roughly the same story as THE TWILIGHT ZONE’s 1960 episode “The Hitch-Hiker,” adapted by Rod Serling from the 1940s radio play by Lucille Fletcher. The TV version starred Inger Stevens as Nan, a young blond woman, haunted on a long road trip by a mysterious man thumbing a ride, who continually reappears on the road ahead even though she keeps leaving him in her dust. At the climax, it is revealed that Nan died in a car accident, leaving us to assume that the Hitch-Hiker is the angel of death, come to collect a spirit who until has not realized that she is no longer among the living.

Herk Harvey and Candace Hilligoss in a scene reminiscent of THE TWILIGHT ZONE's "The Hitch-Hiker."
Herk Harvey and Candace Hilligoss in a scene reminiscent of THE TWILIGHT ZONE's "The Hitch-Hiker."

I will give CARNIVAL OF SOULS credit for superiority in at least one aspect: whereas Rod Serling’s “Hitch-Hiker” script is marred by excessive, melodramatic narration (a vestige of the story’s radio origins), director Herk Harvey presents CARNIVAL OF SOULS’ uncanny elements in evocatively filmed visual terms, backed by appropriately weird music, often played by the lead character Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss), a church organist who, ironically, has no faith in God or belier in the afterlife. These memorable scenes – mostly consisting of Harvey’s intermittent appearances as the silent and mysterious man menacing Mary, his white pancake makeup suggesting a cross between a zombie and a demented mime – create the uncanny quality on which the film’s reputation rests; there is just not enough story to support these sequences.
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click to purchase

All of this makes CARNIVAL OF SOULS the almost perfect subject for RIFFTRAX. Herk Harvey’s cult film, scripted by John Clifford, is actually worth watching, so it does not totally depend on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 alumni Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy to provide entertainment value; however, their running audio commentary by the three comedians definitely helps fill the void in the film’s many longueurs.
Unfortunately, the empty spaces in CARNIVAL OF SOULS require almost too much filling, creating s sometimes desperate quality in the jokes. At one point, Kevin Murphy supposedly goes postal, taking hostages and threatening to start tossing out bodies if the film refuses to speed up. It’s a funny concept, but it doesn’t quite come off in the RiffTrax audio-only format (the routine really cries out for the old MST3K shadow-vision).
Also, the RiffTrax crew sell CARNIVAL OF SOULS short. As someone who is not blinded by adoration for the movie, I appreciate the effort to bring the film down a notch by knocking flaws that the film’s boosters routinely ignore (like the mis-matched post-synchronized sound, which makes the film look cheap rather than enigmatic). Nevertheless, it would have been nice if Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy had tempered their attack just enough to admit that there is a reason that people enjoy CARNIVAL OF SOULS, which truly does contain a good 20 or 30 minutes of magnificently spooky weirdness tucked in between the seemingly endless footage of traveling and transitions.
Director Herk Harvey as the mysterious man pursuing Mary
Director Herk Harvey as the mysterious man pursuing Mary

Even not being a fan of CARNIVAL OF SOULS, I do appreciate its ambition, which occasionally crystallizes into full-blown perfection on screen. The most memorable moment for me, aside from the wonderfully haunting dance of the dead, set in the old pavilion, which see Mary whirled and twirled and eventually pursued by phantoms who engulf her en masse, comes the morning after, when a group of men trace her lone footsteps through the wet sand, to a point where they mysteriously terminate, as if she had simply dematerialized. A ppriest and a psychiatrist – a man of God and a man of Science, both of whom knew Mary – exchange a perplexed glance, as if to say, “I have no explanation. You?” Their silence is more expressive than any dialogue, underlining an encounter with an uncanny mystery that cannot be explained away.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962). Directed by Herk Harvey. Written by John Clifford, from a story by Harvey (uncredited). Cast: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levit, Tom McGinnis, Forbes Caldwell, Dan Palmquist.
RIFFTRAX DVD (June 2009). Written and performed by Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett. The DVD contains a good transfer of the film, which can be played with or without the comic commentary. The RiffTrax performance is also available as an audio-only download that can by synched-up with a pre-existing DVD of CARNIVAL OF SOULS.
Carnival of Souls (1960) poster Carnival of Souls: Mary (Candace Hilligoss) emerges from a car wreck. Carnival of Souls (1960) Carnival of Souls (1960) Carnival of Souls: Herk Havey Carnival of Souls: Herk Harvey and Candace Hilligoss Carnival of Souls: Candace Hilligoss as Mary Henry Carnival of Souls (1960)

Rifftrax: Planet of the Dinosaurs

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click to purchase

Rifftrax performs a genuine public service for those stop-motion and/or dinosaur fans who were curious but trepidatious about viewing this uber-lame 1978 sci-fi flick. Originally recorded as a down-loadable podcast that could be synched up with a conventional DVD or VOD presentation of the film, the Rifftrax crew’s alternate soundtrack was released on DVD by Legends Films back in January, and there truly is no other way to enjoy PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS (well, except perhaps for getting stoned and watching the film with a bunch of friends, but this is much cheaper and less hazardous to your health).


PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS tells the “Gilligan’s Island” tale of a crew in outer space whose ship overheats, forcing a crash landing on a planet inhabited (to the character’s surprise if not to ours) by prehistoric beasts that uncannily resemble dinosaurs from Earth. In fact, the resemblance is so uncanny that they even have our fictional dinosaurs: in a nod to stop-motion special effects master Ray Harryhausen, the rhedosaurus from THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS shows up in a cameo, just long enough to get killed by a T-Rex.
With little hope of a rescue ship arriving anytime soon, the characters in PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS embark on a “Swiss Family Robinson” struggle for survival, high-lighted by the notably lackluster dramatic conflict between the ineffectual, wimpy captain (who wants to hide from the dinosaurs) and a beefy, macho crewman, who believes that homo sapiens should be the dominant life form on this planet, regardless of how outmatched they seem to be by the local predators.
Although set in the future, PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS is pure 1970s camp, with hairstyles and jump-suits that evoke unpleasant memories of the horrible disco era. Along with the coifs and costumes, the characters have inherited some startling incompetence problems: they are literally introduced to us as they are crashing their ship, which sets the tone for everything that follows, as their stupidity results in the crew members being picked off one by one. If there is a rock to trip on, it will not go untripped on, and if a laser is dropped, you know someone will run back for it, just in time to become dino chow.
In a special piece of retro-weirdness, the first two victims are women who show too much skin: a radio operator who strips off her clothes to dive into a lake (she is conveniently wearing a swimsuit underneath) and the corporate vice-president’s secretary-girlfriend, whose bare midriff is the only respite during the numerous, lengthy dialogue and walking scenes that separate the few minutes of dinosaur action. Yet strangely, the man who strips off his shirt to dive into the lake with the female  radio operator survives to  go shirtless throughout the rest of the film and never pays the price for his semi-nudity.
With characters like these, it is no surprise that your only sympathy will be with the dinosaurs – most of whom, sadly, die bloody deaths. In fact, you will end up rooting for rampaging reptiles to eat the human idiots, especially after their first big achievement is ganging up to take out a small, harmless, bird-like dino – after which they whoop it up as if they have just successfully stormed the beaches at Normandy.
Achieved with stop-motion effects in the style of Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien (KING KONG), these dinosaurs may not be the greatest, but they are fun to watch in a nostalgic kind of way. The process shots that combine live-action with special effects are washed out, but the dinosaur models are fairly well designed and detailed. The Tyrannosaurus Rex in particular is a fearsome antagonist, and the effects crew (which includes the familiar names of Doug Beswick and Jim Danforth, among others) pull off some nice shots. My favorite is a clever low-angle of the T-Rex emerging from its lair, with the camera tilting up not quite fast enough to keep the dinosaur fully in frame – nicely simulating the lock of a live-action cameraman trying to follow a fast-moving subject.


In a time before home video had killed off the theatrical market for low-budget movies, filmmakers in the 1970s were still churning out drek that they expected to reach the big screen, at least in a drive in – an assumption that proved false in this case: PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS received no theatrical release, in spite of the fact that it had – well, you know, dinosaurs. This is a testament to how weak the dialogue, direction, and performances are; the film has a vague air of “Let’s make a movie” around it, as if some people had access to enough cash to hire a special effects crew and simply decided to throw together some kind of film to tie the dinosaur scenes together.
Watching every frame of its padded running time in a theatre would have been a true endurance test. Home video, with the fast-forward and chapter-stop buttons, offered some relief – and a chance to get to the only scenes worth seeing. But PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS finally found its place in the world when the Rifftrax crew (former MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) recorded their caustic commentary track, which mercilessly mocks the on-screen ineptitude.
In general, I have not been a huge fan of this particular trio’s work; although Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett are always funny, their batting average (during the final years of MST3K on Sci-Fi Channel, in the handful of FILM CREW DVDs, and now on Rifftrax) has been a bit lower than during the heyday of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER when it was on Comedy Central. Fortunately, something about PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS brings out the best in them, and they deliver consistently high-quality comedy throughout. Best of all, their efforts here seem effortless: they are seldom stretching for a joke; instead, they capitalize upon the plentiful opportunities for derision, turning a nearly unwatchable film into a must-see viewing experience.
The Rifftrax DVD features a rather worn-out print of PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS – which is a virtue in a way, because it preserves the 1970s aura. There are chapter stops, but they are not listed on the menu, which offers  only two options: view the film with the riff-track or view it with the original soundtrack (should you want to hear the uninterrupted dialogue for some masochistic reason). There are no bonus features.

Kevin Murphy discusses Rifftrax in general, including PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS, in this interview.

PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS (1978). Directed by James K. Shea. Written by Ralph Lucas from a story by Jim Aupperle. Cast: James Whitworth, Pamela Bottaro, Louie Lawless, Harvey Shain, Charlotte Speer, Chuck Pennington. Derna Wylde, Max Thayer, Mary Appleseth.

Rifftrax: Plan 9 From Outer Space – Encore Presentation

In case you missed Fathom Events’ nationwide presentation of RIFFTRAX: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE last month (mentioned here), there will be an encore presentation in 285 theatres around the country on Thursday, October 8 at 7:30pm local time. The original live broadcast originated on August 20 from the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, Tennesse, with former MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 stars Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett offering caustic commentary on Edward D. Wood’s infamously bad sci-fi stinker.
According to Fathom Events (a company that beams concerts, movies, and other events into movie theatres, rather like a big-screen version of pay television), the re-run of the Rifftrax PLAN 9 event was the result of “high demand from fans.”
A URL and code will be revealed following the event to encore audiences to download free exclusive digital extras including the “Flying Stewardess” downloadable short; an autographed digital photo of Nelson, Murphy and Corbett; three songs by the RiffTones; and an animated short of the failed “Plans” 1 through 8.
The Rifftrax website (RiffTrax.com) offers podcasts of commentaries by Nelson, Corbet, and Murphy, which you can download onto your computer and synch up with DVDs or VOD. In June, they released their first batch of DVDs, including PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.
For more information visit www.FathomEvents.com.

Rifftrax Live on August 20 with Plan 9 from Outer Space

Through the magic of Fathom, the entertainment divisoin of National CineMedia, Micheal J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett will be “appearing” in theatres around the country on August 20, as they provide a live Rifftrax accompaniment to Edward D. Wood’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE – the film widely (if erroneously) regarded as the “Worst Movie Ever Made.” (Which is not to say it’s any good – it’s terrible; it’s just that there are even worse films out there.) The film, along with the live Rifftrax performance, will be beamed in high-definition to theatres at 8:00pm Eastern Time, 7:00pm Central Time, and 6:00pm Mountain Time; the performance will be tape delayed until 8:00pm for theatres on the Pacific Coast.
The event, which also includes a short subject, will feature the colorized version of PLAN 9, which was released by Legend films on DVD in 2006. Last month, Legend included the colorized PLAN 9 as one of ten Rifftrax DVD releases, featuring caustic commentary by  by the former stars of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Many more Rifftrax commentaries are availble for download at the group’s official website; selling them separately bypasses the trouble of securing the rights to release films on disc.(Read an interview with Murphy here on the subject here.)
In case you are unfamiliar with Fathom, the company provides limited-run entertainment (one or two nights) to movie theatres, often live events such as sports, concerts, and opera; sometimes the present premieres of cult science fiction, horror, and anime movies that otherwise would not be seen in U.S. theatres.

RiffTrax: Missile to the Moon – Video

RiffTrax – the Internet successor to the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRER 3000 television show – has just released its first batch of DVDs, featuring the familiarly irreverent commentary from Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy. Here is an excerpt from one of the ten discs available, featuring MISSILE TO THE MOON, a low budget 1958 opus in which two escaped convicts are forced to join the crew of the titular rocketship when they are caught by a scientist (who turns out to be alien trying to get home – E.T., indeed!)

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.


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 – 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). 


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.