Laserblast DVD & Blu-ray, April 6: Lord of the Rings, Battlestar Galactica, Hammer Icons of Suspense

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The month of April blasts off in a big way for fans of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films, with several high-profile titles competing for shelf space at your local home video retailer. The 60-foot gorilla in this case is a 9-disc Blu-ray box set titles THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (Theatrical Editions). Each film gets three discs: one containing the film and trailers; one loaded with bonus features; and one containing a digital copy of the movie for download to your PC or iPod. At a glance, the bonus features seem to replicate those available on the previous DVD releases of the theatrical versions (the Houghton Mifflin In-Store Special, the “May It Be” music video, etc). No doubt a Blu-ray box set of the extended editions cannot be far behind, with a different set of bonus materials.
As if cashing in on Peter Jackson trilogy’s box set release, the 1978 animated film from Ralph Bakshi is also being released on home video, in both the Blu-ray and DVD formats. Although most people were pretty down on this movie when it came out – the response was so bad that Bakshi never completed the intended sequel, leaving the story unfinished – I have a certain fondness. And truth be told, it did influence Jackson’s live-action version to at least a small degree.
And speaking of cashing in, Wes Craven’s 1984 version of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET gets a Blu-ray release this week, in time to beat the remake’s arrival in theatres on April 30. I’m not sure the shadowy, grainy photography of the film benefits tremendously from the Blu-ray format, but this is a genre classic and deserves to be in every serious horror fan’s collection. The remake has a lot to live up to. NOTE: Although originally announced for an April 6 date, this NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Blu-ray disc was pushed back to April 13.
As for the rest, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE COMPLETE SERIES arrives on BLu-ray and DVD, along with the second season on Blu-ray. THE TERMINATOR, Tim Burton’s PLANET OF THE APES, and BLOOD TIES: THE COMPLETE SERIES get Blu-ray releases. And a little direct-to-video effort titled HIGH PLAINS INVADERS, starring James Marsters, arrives on DVD; sounds like a combo of Western and Sci Fi, with a band of survivors fending off “uranium-based insectoid creatures” in a church.
UPDATE: The Hammer Icons of Suspense DVD set was a last-minute addition to this week’s home video releases. Although Hammer was most known for Gothic horror films, they occasionally dabbled in contemporary suspense pictures during the early ’60s. The titles here include STOP ME BEFORE I KILL; CASH ON DEMAND; THE SNORKEL; MANIAC; NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER; and THESE ARE THE DAMNED. The last of these is a bit out of place in this set: it’s a down-beat combination of science fiction, melodrama, and juvenile delinquent genres, about radioactive children kept in an underground secret laboratory as part of a secret government program; directed by the renowned Joseph Losey, it is one of Hammer’s best films.

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