Laserblast 10/5/10: Splice, The Exorcist, Beauty & The Beast

Also coming out on home video this week: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, CAPRICA SEASON 1.0, STARGATE UNIVERS: COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, THE SECRET OF KELLS, GRINDHOUSE SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY, and DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND

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Tuesday, October 5 is overflowing with horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles of all shapes and sizes arriving on home video in various formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes downloads. The best of the new releases is SPLICE, which arrives in two versions, DVD and Blu-ray. When it hit theatres earlier this year, Vincenzo Natali’s sci-fi horror opus was a bit misrepresented by its advertising campaign, which suggested a SPECIES-type monster movie. Instead, audiences got a thoughtful science fiction film with an overlay of dark satire.
Also out this week is A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, the unnecessary (and unnecessarily dull) remake of writer-director Wes Craven’s 1984 classic. The new version is slickly made but typically soulless. Somewhat less typically, it is also almost entirely devoid of shocks and suspense. Give this one a pass.
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This is one of those rare weeks when classic titles are overwhelming new releases, thanks to some deluxe editions that surpass and eclipse previous home video versions. Horror fans disappointed by the ELM STREET remake can take solace in Warner Brothers Home Video release a two-disc Blu-ray of THE EXORCIST (1973), which includes the original theatrical cut and the so-called “Extended Director’s Cut,” plus three new documentaries. The film is also being made available for download via iTunes for the first time. The extended cut is just a new name for the 2000 theatrical re-issue of the film, which at the time was dubbed “The Version You ‘ve Never Seen” – a sobriquet that hardly makes sense ten years later. Even if (like me) you have previously purchased both versions of the film on DVD (including the excellent 25th anniversary edition), you will find much worth viewing on this disc, thanks to previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage that provides an amazing glimpse at the making of this horror classic.
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If your tastes run more toward fairy tale fantasy, you are in luck: Walt Disney Home Video is releasing a 3-disc Diamond Edition of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, their 1991 Oscar-nominated blockbuster, which has been unavailable in any form since 2003. (This combo pack will be followed seven weeks later by a 2-Disc standard definition DVD on November 23.) The 3-disc set includes one DVD and two Blu-rays. The DVD features an all-new digital restoration, three versions of the film, sing-along mode (with subtitles for the lyrics), and an audio commentary. The first Blu-ray disc includes the DVD bonus features and the three versions of the film (in high-def, of course), plus more extras, including previously unseen alternate opening and a deleted scene. The second Blu-ray disc offers the bonus features from the old Platinum Edition DVD, plus some new Blu-ray extras, including “Beyond Beauty – The Untold Stories,” “Enchanted Musical Challenge Game,” and “Bonjour, Who is This” – a game in which you use your phone to receive secret messages and guess players’ identities before they guess yours.
In a move no one could ever have expected, the abysmal TROLL 2 receives a Blu-ray release this week; the format seems altogether too refined by the cheezy little movie, which has gained some cult notoriety this year, thanks to the art house release of BEST WORST MOVIE, the documentary tracing the lives and reunion of some of the TROLL 2 cast members.
MGM Home Video offers the MGM Sci-Fi Movie Collection. Unfortunately, the company’s 1956 classic FORBIDDEN PLANET is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get one  (WAR GAMES) and a bunch of forgettable duds (SOLAR BABIES, ALIEN FROM L.A. with Kathy Ireland, HACKERS with a  young Angelina Jolie film, SPACE CAMP, and a WAR GAMES sequel).
Apparently, bargain days have arrived this week, with several previous available titles re-released in two-packs: GROUNDHOG DAY and SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, HANCOCK and GHOST RIDER, THE GRUDGE and SILENT HILL, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and WOLF, FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and I ROBOT, plus several others.
But wait, there’s more! Also on store shelves this week:

  • CAPRICA: SEASON 1.0 on DVD
  • SGU: STARGATE UNIVERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON on DVD and Blu-ray
  • THE SECRET OF KELLS on DVD and Blu-ray
  • GRINDHOUSE two-disc collector’s edition on Blu-ray
  • THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE COLLECTION on DVD
  • DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND on DVD
  • DELGO on DVD and two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo
  • THE EVIL/TWICE DEAD, a two-pack of Roger Corman Cult Classics
  • FINGERPRINTS on Blu-ray
  • THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, a deluxe edition
  • THE RIG
  • SISTERS on Blu-ray (no not the Brian DePalma original but an unnecessary remake)

And the list goes on and on… All are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store. Click the links below to check them out, or go here.
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Tomm Moore on THE SECRET OF KELLS – Fantasy Podcast Interview

The Magic's in the Details: Aisling (voiced by Kristen Mooney) and Brendan (Evan McGuire) in THE SECRET OF KELLS
The Magic's in the Details: Aisling (voiced by Kristen Mooney) and Brendan (Evan McGuire) in THE SECRET OF KELLS

I’m not sure when I first heard of THE SECRET OF KELLS. Probably last year, likely through AICN, definitely way before it wound up on the Oscar nominee list for animated feature (and everybody started going, “The what of who?”). At that time, the buzz was growing around this small, exquisitely designed film out of Ireland. Who imagined it getting any further than a small band of passionate geeks?
I got to finally see it courtesy of my friend Russ, who imported a U.K. region DVD and through channels too sinister to mention (I may be exaggerating a bit), had it converted to a U.S. region disk. The distributors announced press screenings not too long after, but I still felt Russ was well-justified in going to all that the effort. Over at Cinefantastique, we like to champion films with “a sense of wonder,” and THE SECRET OF KELLS meets that standard on nearly every front. Beautifully animated — imagine the simple but expressive designs of Genndy Tartakovsky (SAMURAI JACK; STAR WARS: CLONE WARS) wedded to the elaborate illuminations of the Book of Kells — and imbued with that rarefied magic that seems the sole domain of Ireland, the film well-earned its buzz, not to mention the Oscar nom and hopefully a growing audience as it is rolled out across the U.S. in the next few months.
I got to talk to KELLS’ Tomm Moore — who directed the film with Nora Twomey — a few days after the Oscar ceremonies, and we delved into matters both cultural and technical, as well as discussed the current state of the animation industry in Ireland. Click on the player to hear the interview.