This week offers a slim selection of horror, fantasy and science fiction titles on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Walt Disney Home Video spins another direct-to-video feature from one of their classic franchises; in this case it is TINKER BELL AND THE GREAT FAIRY RESCUE, which is being released on DVD and in a two-disc DVD & Blu-ray disc combo pack.
Fans of the giant flying turtle Gamera can celebrate his exploits with two new double-disc DVD releases: GAMERA VS. GUIRON/GAMERA VS. JIGER and GAMERA VS. GYAOS/GAMERA VS VIRAS.
Synergy Entertainment offers another T-shirt & DVD bundle. THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (starring Lon Chaney) comes with original poster art plastered on a t-shirt, which is available in large and extra-large sizes.
Amazon.com is offering a pair of exclusives offers : multi-title packages of Blu-ray discs, organized according to theme. Amazon’s “The Thrills and Chills Bundle” includes THE CRAZIES, PANDORUM, and THE NEW DAUGHTER. Their “Slasher Horror Bundle” includes RED MIST, HATCHET, BEHIND THE MASK, and JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER.
Finally, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD makes its bow on VOD and DVD, with a Blu-ray release to follow shortly.
Beautifully shot and well acted, this horror-thriller leaves too many unaswered questions.
As a movie lover living in New York City, I’ve become a bit jaded in terms of film-watching. New York is one of those places they refer to when using the phrase, “Opens in Select Cities” during movie trailers, and aside from getting to see most independent films a good 3-4 months before the rest of the country, there are also opportunities to see screenings of many major releases early as well. Film buffs take note: New York City is the celluloid “High Life”. Which is why it is always a bit unsettling to find a recent DVD release that completely slipped under my radar. Case in point: THE NEW DAUGHTER, which snuck in and out of theatres last December. THE NEW DAUGHTER is a horror-thriller directed by Luis Berdejo ( the writer of [REC]) about a recently divorced father named John (Kevin Costner) who moves to rural South Carolina with his two children, Louisa (Ivana Baquero of PAN’S LABYRINTH fame) and Sam (Gattlin Griffith from CHANGELING). Exploring their new property, the kids stumble upon a mysterious mound at the edge of the woods. While Sam and John both feel ill at ease around it, Louisa seems inexplicably drawn to it. Shortly thereafter, Louisa’s behavior begins to change as she becomes more withdrawn and aggressive, all while spending more and more time out at the mound. Hoping to understand what is happening to his daughter, John researches the property and finds that an ancient evil may lurk underneath the mound. With no options left, he takes it upon himself to save Louisa and end the horror once and for all.
Lets get the pros out of the way: This movie is beautifully shot by D.P Checco Varese, who finds the perfect mood lighting for each scene and also resists the recent trend in movies to overuse the Steady Cam/ Handheld camera approach, opting instead for a traditional smooth and steady shot to get the point across. And despite whatever your feelings for Kevin Costner may be, the acting in THE NEW DAUGHTER is not bad. Costner is definitely in his element here: small, intimate scenes placed in the South (so right there, no pesky accents to master). He is believable as a father having a hard time with the change in his life but doing his best for the kids.
Unfortunately, that’s where the pros stop and the cons begin. The editing definitely leaves something to be desired – there are so many blackouts, you might think someone spiked your soda. While it may make for gripping suspense the first two times, after awhile you start to expect commercials to pop up. But this leads us to the main problem with THE NEW DAUGHTER: the script. While I can’t speak to the source material (the film is based off the short story by John Connolly), the screenplay is all over the place. It wants to pack as much tension and suspense into a scene as possible but often gives no context for said tension and suspense. The script attempts to include the back-story in a subtle manner that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the plot.; unfortunately, it is so subtle that it requires a scene in which a scientist comes in and says a few words, then disappears. Rather than a gradual 5-course meal of information, it starves viewers and then suddenly hits them in the face with a cream pie of plotline. By the time the ending rolls around, the audience has no clear understanding of the plot and, therefore, no stake in the fate of the characters.
Overall, THE NEW DAUGHTER is a noble attempt that trips and falls on its clunky screenplay. The ideas are interesting and the film provides us with a glimpse of possible future movie stars (Ivana Baquero is definitely one to watch), but in the end there are so many unanswered questions that even a second viewing won’t come close to answering them all.
The DVD (Standard Def. Version reviewed)
While certainly not extensive, the DVD does have your standard package of extras:
Deleted Scenes – The best that can be said for these is that they definitely are scenes and yes, they were deleted. Most of the offerings here are simply transitional bits that provides no insight into the film itself: i.e. ambulances pulling up to a house.
Audio Commentary – The sole commentary comes from director Luis Berdejo, who spends most of the time discussing what they were attempting to do.
Behind The Scenes – The most insightful extra on the DVD, includes interviews from the cast & crew. John Connolly, writer of the short story on which the film is based, discusses his inspiration, and he seems like the kind of guy you want to go get a beer with.
Laserblast likes to shine a light on exciting horror, fantasy and science fiction home video releases, but this week the light is dim, with no exciting theatrical blockbusters making their debut on DVD, Blu-ray, or Video on Demand. Instead we look at a handful of direct-to-video titles and some cult movie re-issues, including one featuring a famous flying turtle.
THE NEW DAUGHTER is a horror thriller starring Kevin Costner. The set-up is pretty standard: after a divorced father moves into a rural home with his two children, the daughter begins acting strange; is she just a troubled teen, or is she the victim of a mysterious evil lurking in the house? The film received a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it limited theatrical release last December, but it’s essentially a direct-to-video title. The handful of critics who have seen it have not been kind, giving the film a 29% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
OUTLANDER bills itself as “BEOWULF Meets PREDATOR.” The novelty of this sci-fi action-adventure is its time period, with an alien crash-landing his ship on Earth during the Viking-era in Norway. Unfortunately, he brings with him a carniverous creature who wrecks havoc on all concerned. Jim Caviezel and Sophia Myles star, with Ron Perlman and John Hurt in supporting roles. GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER is the first in a new series of DVD releases featuring Daie Studios answer to Godzilla. For decades, the film was available in altered form in the U.S., under the title GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE. The new disc offers the original Japanese version, with a new HD master from vault elements, plus these bonus features: a retrospective featurette looking at the Gamera franchise (including interviews with filmmakers), an audio commentary by August Ragone (author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters), and a publicity gallery.
TOKYO GORE POLICE arrives again on DVD, this time in a two-disc set (titled TOKYO GORE POLICE 1.5) from Tokyo Shock. The story follows the Police Corporation’s battle with genetically modified super-criminals. The second disc i filled with short follow-up films.
The low-budget ’60s exploitation opus THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS – a film more famous for its title than anything else – gets the DVD treatment. Mamie Van Doren and Anthony Eisley. star in this tale of the Navy fighting some Night Monsters – basically walking, carnivorous plants along the lines of DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS.
Finally, a company named Echo Bridge Home Entertainment is release discount versions of previously available titles at $6.99 a pop. If you have been holding off on purchasing 30,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, AVH: ALIEN VS HUNTER, INVASION OF THE POD PEOPLE, and HAUNTING OF WINCHESTER HOUSE, now’s your chance to save a few bucks while completing your collection.