Laserblast: End of January DVD Roundup

Doing a little catch-up work this week, as we have been neglecting some of January’s home video releases. Not that there have been that many; after the big Christmas glut, things slow down during the beginning of the year. Still, fans of the Jigsaw Killer will be pleased to know that SAW IV is now available in multiple versions: widescreen unrated DVD; full screen unrated DVD; widescreen DVD; and Blu-ray disc. Also out last week was a box set for TORCHWOOD – The Complete First Season; this is the gay DR. WHO spin-off that fans have been raving about.
The most high-profile release this week (though calling it eagerly awaited would probably be an exaggeration) is THE INVASION. The film, which went through re-shooting and re-editing before it was released last year, was a box office disaster, prompting one to wonder whether the original version might not find its way onto home video; unfortunately, this is not the case. The discs provide an anamorphic widescreen transfer with 5.1 surround sound, plus a handful of very short featurettes that give some glimpse into the production. There is no audio commentary.
From big-budget Hollywood bombs to foreign art house fare: Lars Von Triers’ mystifying and wonderful THE KINGDOM has re-emerged on DVD. This rather Lynchinan item (the inspiration for the short-lived, dumbed down Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital) was originally a mini-series in Denmark before being re-editing into an epic length movie for screenings in U.S. theatres. A second mini-series followed and received the same art house distribution in the U.S. Both have been previously released on DVD, but the second series was almost impossible to find in the U.S. Now they have been released, both individually and combined in a set.
Perhaps the most high-quality video release this week is The Val Lewton Horror Collection. A previous version of this box set came out in 2006; the new release contains a new documentary about Lewton, narrated by director Martin Scorsese. Lewton was a producer who made a series of low-budget, shuddery shocker in the 1940s at RKO Pictures. His horror films stand in marked contrast to those produced during the same era by Universal (which had a run of classics in the ’30s but was pretty much re-hashing their classic monsters by this point). Lewton went for suggestion, atmosphere, and intelligent storytelling, creating some wonderful movies: THE CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and THE BODY SNATCHER are three of the best. If you are a fan of classic horror, this is one box set you definitely should own.
Check out more recent home video releases below the fold.

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