Tuesday, April 27’s horror, fantasy, and science fiction home video releases include two films that recently received limited theatrical exposure, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS and TRANSYLMANIA, and two older titles getting a new Blu-ray treatment, ARMAGEDDON and DUNE. IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS is the first genuine Terry Gilliam fantasy film in quite a while (as opposed to the dull THE BROTHERS GRIMM, which he directed but did not write). It’s not match for his best work, but it is nice to see Gilliam back in the same old groove, exploring the collision between reality and fantasy. The film makes its debut on DVD and Blu-ray; the latter disc is loaded with extras, including an audio commentary, an introduction by Gilliam, four minutes of deleted scenes, five featurettes, a multi-angle sequence, a wardrobe test and an interview with actor Heath Ledger (who died midway through production), a cast and crew presentation, a look at the “Artwork of Doctor Parnassus,” and trailers.
TRANSYLMANIA is a horror comedy about some stupid college students who make the mistake of enrolling in Transylvania University in the hope of meeting some hot Romanian women – do you think they’ll turn out to be vampires? The DVD features an unrated cut of the film.
Both ARMAGEDON and DUNE have been the subject of previous DVD editions that included bonus features not available on the new Blu-ray editions, so buyers will likely be interested only for the improved audio-video quality. ARMAGEDDON (reviewed here) features solid picture and sound, but lacks the extras seen in Criterion’s now out-of-print double-disc DVD. The single-disc Blu-ray of DUNE clocks in at 137 minutes, which probably is just fine with director David Lynch. The old two-disc DVD included both Lynch’s theatrical cut and an extended television version stitched together without his approval (Lynch had his name taken off the later, because the additional scenes featured unfinished footage missing the special effects). DUNE is not top-level Lynch, but it is interesting for fans to see what happened when he was put in charge of a major Hollywood production.