New on DVD: Let’s Do the Timewarp Again!
A Sweet Transvestite, Sparkling Vampires, and Yes More Zombies
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I have the upcoming Halloween holiday to thank for the multiple horror releases to be found this week.
First let me dispense with some of the less interesting new releases. "Predators" (note the added "s") is not quite a remake, not quite a sequel, not quite a reboot, and not quite good enough to merit owning a copy. The original film had some B-movie fun and I thought Robert Rodriguez signing on to produce might turn this latest entry in the franchise into something entertaining. But "Predators" felt all too familiar
Next is something that will either make you squeal with delight or groan with pain. There is nothing in between. "New Moon," the second chapter in the "Twilight" saga arrives on DVD in a single disc edition today. I'm not sure why the studio is making both "Twilight" and "New Moon" available as single discs and promoting them except that maybe they are afraid fans will start to fade like Edward's pale skin between now and the release of "Eclipse." The Blu-ray of "New Moon" is not scheduled until next year and the final installment, "Eclipse," will not be available on home video until December. I'm sure Twi-moms and teen girls will be planning their Team Edward and Team Jacob parties then. For the rest of us, the only way to make the "Twilight" films bearable is to watch them with Rifftrax. So the good news is, a new Rifftrax will finally be available in December with the release of "Eclipse." Take that you silly sparkling bloodsuckers.
But once again it's the older titles that hold more appeal for me. Top of my list this week would be the newly re-mastered "Rocky Horror Picture Show" with an option to watch it with The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show. This is actually a live shadow cast performance with Rocky Horror Picture Show cast members from around the globe. It's fun for trying to create the communal, theater experience at home. There's also a new bonus feature with Mick Rock, who talks about the process of documenting the film as the on set photographer. A new digital master has also been struck from the original camera negatives and transferred in the intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Woo-hoo! Now you can enjoy the sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania in all his/her glory. This is THE cult film of a generation and boasts a glittering performance by Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-n-furter. All the bonus features from previous editions are included. I already feel like doing the time warp again.
You can find another seminal horror film on Blu-ray this week: Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho." Nothing fancy about this release; it mostly just carries over old bonus features and spruces the film up for Blu-ray. But "Psycho" is such an iconic film that it deserves to be seen again. For kids raised on gore and torture porn, the film may not scare them much. But for anyone with an appreciation of horror the film is still a masterwork. You also have to remember when it came in1960; it was downright shocking to do what this film did to its star Janet Leigh. And Anthony Perkins was simply brilliant as Norman Bates.
I also look with not so guilty pleasure to Blu-ray packaging of three "Howling" films together: "The Marsupials III," The Rebirth V," and "The Freaks VI." Then there's the re-issue of "Night of the Demons," that cheesy, exploitative 80s horror flick that is now being remade. The film's original director Kevin Tenney is overseeing the remake, which had a panel at this past weekend's Weekend of Horrors. I'm not sure the new film can capture to weird party horror appeal of the original so I would suggest seeking out this 1988 film first.
Special note also needs to be made of the Asian Extreme film "Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl." This wildly audacious gorefest played at the San Diego Asian Film Festival's Extreme Program and wowed a near full house. Co-directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu go where others fear to tread and deliver such over the top gore, fantasy, horror, and just plain weirdness that your head may spin. The latest from these darlings of extreme cinema is "Robo Geisha" and it will play this Friday night at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. So I suggest going out and buying this disc and having an Extreme party to get in the mood for "Robo Geisha." But remember, what you see you cannot unseen. You've been warned.
We also have two indie zombie films to choose from: "Wasting Away" (also known as "Ah, Zombies") and "Colin." "Wasting Away" has a clever twist on the zombie formula. It takes the point of view of the zombies and suggests that to zombies, they appear perfectly normal. It's only people looking at them from the outside that zombies appear slow and dumb. The film has some clever moments but doesn't realize what its own strengths are. "Colin" is a British film that creating a lot of buzz for its claim of being made for a measly forty pounds. I have yet to see the film but as a zombie fan I will have to seek it out.
"The horror, the horror…" A different kind of horror can be found in the new Blu-ray release of "Apocalypse Now." Labeled the "Full Disclosure Edition," this one had its transfer supervised by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. There are bonus features recycled from previous editions as well as some new interviews. This is a film that's worth getting on Blu-ray.
A film of a much smaller scale is "Fruit Fly." It played at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and it's a solo project from director H.P. Mendoza. Previously he collaborated on the delightful and ultra low-budget musical "Colma: The Musical." When I asked Mendoza if he had anything to say about the new DVD release of his film and he couldn't think of anything to say except, "Maybe just that we're all still in shock that this DIY Asian/gay/nerdy musical got distribution." So if you want to support truly independent filmmaking, this is a film to seek out.
On the complete opposite side of the financial spectrum is the Blu-ray release of two "Harry Potter" installments: "Goblet of Fire" and "The Prisoner of Azkaban." The first of the franchise's two-part finale comes out next month so I'm sure these releases are meant to stir some excitement in the already rabid Potter fan base.
Sony Pictures Classics
And quickly: Baz Luhrmann has Blu-ray releases of both "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet" both of which boast some breathtaking visuals; there is the stilted historical drama "Agora;" the Blu-ray Criterion Edition of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai;" and Nicole Holofcener's sometimes painful observational comedy "Please Give."
And there you have it for another week of home video releases.