Apparently Hollywood has cast some spell that blasted open the doors to their vaults, unleashing a blood-thirsty horde of horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles that are winging their way into video stores this June 1. Not only do we get two major theatrical releases (THE WOLF MAN and ALICE IN WONDERLAND); we also get a cauldron-full of older titles back on Blu-ray and direct-to-video flicks, plus a diabolical dozen (and then some) double-disc releases. It’s more cinefantastique than you can hold at bay with all your garlic and crosses, but don’t fear – we’re here to warn you away from the worst and direct you toward the best.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND is sadly disappointing – one of director Tim Burton’s blockbuster entertainments that suffocates under its own weirdness. It’s visually interesting, to some degree, but dramatically dull and listless. It arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and a 3-disc combo set that includes both of the previous discs, plus a third disc offering a digital copy for your computer. Bonus features include:
- Finding Alice
- The Mad Hatter
- Effecting Wonderland
- The Futterwacken Dance (Blu-ray only)
- The Red Queen (Blu-ray only)
- Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen (Blu-ray only)
- The White Queen: an interview with Anne Hathaway
- Scoring Wonderland: Composer Danny Elfman and Tim Burton discuss the music (Blu-ray only)
- Stunts of Wonderland (Blu-ray only)
- Making the Proper Size (Blu-ray only)
- Cakes of Wonderland (Blu-ray only)
- Tea Party Props (Blu-ray only)
THE WOLF MAN was likewise disappointing, but at least its home video release offers the promise of an unrated director’s cut, which supposedly restores essential elements of the story. This turns out not to be the case; the longer cut is simply longer, not really much better. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray include this cut and the original theatrical version. Unfortunately, the DVD offers only a series of 5 deleted or extended scenes as a bonus feature; if you want any of the behind-the-scenes featurettes about the makeup and special effects, you have to purchase the Blu-ray.
So much for the big guns. What else is out there? Two new direct-to-video titles make their debut, CORNERED and TIME COP 2. The later stars the great Jason Scott Lee (DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY), who really deserves to be in something better. There is also something called “Jackie Chan Presents GEN-Y COPS,” a 2000 Hong Kong action flick about terrorists who abduct a “deadly lethal attack robot.” And interesting for its title if nothing else is EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL – a 2006 indie effort that showed up at some film festivals and made its VOD debut this April; now you can see it on DVD.
Steven Spielberg’s 2005 version of WAR OF THE WORLDS arrives in a new Blu-ray presentation, as does the Kevin Costner vehicle DRAGONFLY. Other oldies surfacing from the crypt include John Carpenter’s VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, GHOST DAD with Bill Cosby, Clint Eastwood’s FIREFOX (a full dub Ac3 Dol Ecoa repackaging), and THE HITCHER II: I’VE BEEN WAITING, which is actually a sequel not to the recent Platinum Dunes remake but to the 1986 version of THE HITCHER, with C. Thomass Howell reprising his role, this time in opposition to Jake Busey (who may or may not be the Hitcher played by Rutger Hauer the first time around). Right about now, most of you are probably asking yourself, “They made a sequel to THE HITCHER? When?”
For some reason, Tuesday, June 1 sees a deluge of double bill DVDs. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has created a label titled “Dreadtime Stories Double Feature,” which offers up four installments this week. The most high-profile is the pairing of HOLLOW MAN (the execrable Paul Verhoeven variation on the invisible man) with FLATLINERS (Joel Schumacher’s execrable attempt to make a sophisticated supernatural thriller about the near-death experience). Also on the Dreadtime Stories menu are double bills of CANDY with THE SHE CREATURE, THE WOODS with THE CRAFT, and RING AROUND THE ROSIE with DEATH TUNNEL.
Is that all the double bills for this week? Not by a long shot! Several previously released single-disc DVDs have been packaged together at discount prices (two for the price of one-and-a-half), providing double bills of SILENT HILL with ULTRAVIOLET, BRAM STOKERS’ DRACULA with THE GRUDGE, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND with STARMAN, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER with I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, THE NET with JOHNNY MNEMONIC, and several others. And if two films are not enough for you, there’s the ULTIMATE 6-MOVIE SCI-FI MARATHON featuring “Androids, Aliens & the Fountain of Youth.” Included are such memorable titles as THE ANDROID AFFAIR and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE II.
Believe it or not, this merely scratches the surface. All told, over 35 horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles are being released on DVD or Blu-ray this week. You can find them all in the Cinefantastique Online Store.