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Blu-ray Highlights for October 2nd, 2012 – It’s Alive! IT’S ALIVE!!

Still catching your breath after last month’s onslaught of expensive Blu-ray releases? Were you hoping that the start of October would bring your wallet a respite? Good luck with that.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (10/2/12)?

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Spooky Delights

In the lead-up to Halloween, horror fans have a special treat in store with the ‘Universal Classic Monsters‘ collection. This box set contains:

  • ‘Dracula’ (1931)
  • ‘Dracula: Spanish-Language Version’ (1931)
  • ‘Frankenstein’ (1931)
  • ‘The Mummy’ (1932)
  • ‘The Invisible Man’ (1933)
  • ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935)
  • ‘The Wolf Man’ (1941)
  • ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (1943)
  • ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon – 3D’ (1954)

Here in the United States, these are only available packaged together. However, viewers only interested in a select few of these titles may wish to investigate importing them from the UK, where all of the movies (except the Spanish-language version of ‘Dracula’, which remains a box set exclusive) can be purchased separately. In fact, even if you want the whole collection, the British version of the set is less expensive than the American release, despite international shipping. The UK also has a swanky limited edition coffin package that we won’t get on these shores.

If you prefer a little more color in your scary movies, Paramount resurrects the 1989 adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary‘ in high definition.

Everything or Nothing

Did you forego last week’s massive ‘Bond 50′ box set because you only wanted a few of the movies, or already had the older editions of some and just wanted to pick up the others separately? MGM has you covered this week with individual releases of the first twenty James Bond films. Eleven of the discs are reissues, and nine are new. (Reissues of ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’ are coming on October 23rd.)

As a reminder, the nine new discs are retailer exclusives, broken out as follows: Best Buy gets ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’. Target has ‘The Living Daylights’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘A View to a Kill’. Walmart carries ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, ‘GoldenEye’ and ‘Octopussy’.

[Update: It appears that Best Buy has pushed back the release of its three exclusives to October 23rd without telling anyone, even its own employees.]

New Releases

The biggest day-and-date title of the week is Tim Burton’s flop “re-imagining” of the campy supernatural soap opera ‘Dark Shadows‘. Like most of the director’s movies, you can count on Johnny Depp to play an eccentric weirdo, Helena Bonham Carter in a kooky supporting role, and a circus-y Danny Elfman score. This one didn’t go over too well with either critics or viewers. Either nobody remembered the old TV show, or people have finally gotten sick of the Burton formula. Perhaps the problem was a little bit of both?

The rest of the new releases are indie and film festival titles that didn’t make too many waves in general release. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks star in the family drama ‘People Like Us‘, which bizarrely comes from ‘Transformers’ writers Alex Kurtzman (who also directed) and Roberto Ocri. Robert De Niro plays a psychic in the supernatural mystery ‘Red Lights‘. Pretty much everyone who’s seen that one has complained about its lousy ending. Catherine Keener and Jane Fonda visit a hippie commune in ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding‘, which sounds like a quickie remake of this year’s earlier Jennifer Aniston vehicle ‘Wanderlust’. French action maestro Luc Besson makes a failed play for awards glory with the very dull, very conventional bio-pic ‘The Lady‘. (I’ve seen that one; it’s boring.) ‘Another Earth’ writer/star Brit Marling does the no-budget sci-fi thing again with ‘Sound of My Voice‘, word of mouth for which wasn’t nearly as strong as her previous movie.

On the culty side of things, space Nazis from the moon invade Earth in ‘Iron Sky‘, and Chinese mega-producer Tsui Hark teams up with superstar Jet Li for the 3D kung-fu extravaganza ‘Flying Swords of Dragon Gate‘. Like most of Tsui’s movies, you should probably expect an incoherent plot and sloppily choreographed action scenes. I’m not sure why this guy is so popular in Asia. Something must not translate.

Catalog Titles

After the Universal monsters and the Bond flicks, the most exciting catalog releases of the week have to be Disney’s animated classic ‘Cinderella‘ and Criterion’s high-def upgrade of Won Kar Wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love‘. These are both movies that should greatly benefit from Blu-ray.

Parents with young daughters are advised to buy some earplugs when picking up the ever-popular musical ‘Annie‘. Adults can only listen to the insufferable anthem “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” so many times before losing all grasp on sanity.

In other kid-friendly developments, MGM offers up a 25th Anniversary Edition re-release of ‘The Princess Bride‘. Personally, I thought the last Blu-ray was plenty good and don’t see a need to upgrade.

Shifting gears entirely, Fox rolls out the Jean-Claude Van Damme trifecta of ‘Cyborg‘, ‘Death Warrant‘ and ‘Double Impact‘, while Warner drops the Dolph Lundgren cheesefest ‘Masters of the Universe‘.

Finally, indie label VCI gives us John Carpenter’s goofy cult classic ‘Dark Star‘.

Television

If you’ve held off this long on buying the first two seasons of ‘Downton Abbey‘, PBS has packaged them together into one supposedly limited collection. Meanwhile, Starz has a complete first season box set of the drama ‘Magic City‘, of which I’d never even heard until today.

I already have ‘Cinderella’ on pre-order from when I grabbed the Best Buy SteelBook incentive. ‘In the Mood for Love’ will go on my wish list for Barnes & Noble’s next Criterion sale.

I’m tempted by the Universal monsters collection, but I haven’t decided whether I really need all of the movies in it. I love the two ‘Frankenstein’ films, but I’m iffy on most of the others. On the other hand, I’d like the Spanish-language ‘Dracula’. I’m still on the fence about what to do with this.

Which titles have your attention this week?

27 comments

  1. Shayne Blakeley

    I really, really want the Universal Monsters set, but it is just way to expensive for me right now. I should have Pet Sematary coming today and I’ll get to Cinderella and MOTU eventually, no rush there.
    Has there been any more word on The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection that was supposed to be released today? It’s listed in the release section, but the Amazon link didn’t work, and it doesn’t show up there or through my distributor, just the import version. Last I heard was that it became a Best Buy exclusive (suck) but I don’t know if that’s permanent or temporary. Also wondering if it’s the same quality as the import you reviewed, if it has the same special features, if Freddy’s Dead is in 3D, etc. Also, I saw somewhere that when the listing was up on Amazon it said 4 discs, but the Best Buy listing says 5 discs, does that mean that you only get whatever special features from them? HELP!!

    • M. Enois Duarte

      Yeah, somehow Warner pulled ‘Nightmare on Elm Street Collection’ quietly without explanation. It’s not even a Best Buy exclusive, I believe.

  2. William Henley

    I agree about the Universal Monsters set price with Shayne, however, 36 pounds from amazon.co.uk is cheap enough that, if its still that price on Friday, I am picking it up. Once they take off the VAT, that will be below $60. Now that is a value I can go with!

    I recieved Cinderella last night, and I ordered Annie today. Been looking forward to that one for a while.

    I want to get Dark Shadows when it comes down in price. I enjoyed it, but not enough for $24 from Amazon.

    I am probably going to pick up the remaining Bond movies over the next few weeks.

  3. Hey Josh, there’s a small typo in both links to the Universal Monster sets. They redirect to “amazon.couk”, whereas it should be “amazon.co.uk”. No biggie.

  4. Barsoom Bob

    Just came back from Drew’s favorite store, Worst Buy, and they didn’t have any of the exclusive Bonds or the Universal box set. It is very frustrating that all these stores that you used to be able to go into and browse the selections and pick up the new releases are just falling apart or disappearing all together.

  5. Drew

    As William alluded to, anybody interested in the Universal Monster’s set will save 50% by buying it from Amazon UK. Your total expense will be less than $60 USD for the standard box, and just over $60 for the limited edition coffin set. Both of the UK sets are significantly nicer than the US one as well. The coffin set, especially, is very handsome!

    Don’t pay $120 for the US set. There’s no reason not to buy the UK one. It’s region-free.

    • William Henley

      Also remember that VAT is removed for international customers, so the price you see ends up being even cheaper. AFTER shipping, the UK set cost me $55 and some pennies, and it will take about a week to recieve. The Coffin went up in price by the time I got around to ordering, so I got the regular, but it is still cheaper than the US set.

      Ordering internationally has been a huge savings from me. At least from the UK, Canada, and Germany (although, with Amazon.de, they have a flat shipping rate – it’s expensive if you are only ordering one item, but if you are ordering multiple items, it really starts to pay off). And then, because it’s international, you don’t have to pay taxes, and you shouldn’t have to pay any tarrifs if you order under $500 worth of stuff (they should be charging tarrifs if you order more than that, but I haven’t made that big of a purchase, so i cannot verify that).

      So yeah, look around. It amazes me how much I can save sometimes by ordering internationally, even after paying for shipping.

      • EM

        When I ordered, I also got £1 off for some promotion. That surprised me, and I still don’t know what the quid off was for. But I’m not complaining.

        You might “have to” pay taxes on international Amazon orders whether Amazon collects them or not. For example, in Indiana we have something called use tax which is meant essentially as a sales tax on items bought out of state and brought into Indiana. It is collected as part of one’s income-tax return, only on items on which no sales tax was paid or on which a sales-tax rate less than Indiana’s (currently 7%) was paid. For example, if you paid 5% in some other jurisdiction, you’d owe 2% in use tax. Of course, many people do not pay according to their legal obligations.

        • William Henley

          Willing to bet the Quid is for an MP3. I will have to look and see if I got one. But 9 times out of 10, that seems to be what it is for me.

          Texas doesn’t have a state income tax. They did start charging tax on stuff from Amazon and for stuff bought online out-of-state, but they don’t charge for out-of-country.

          Truthfully, I think both are illegal – taxes on sales between states are illegal per the constitution or bill of rights or something (been too long since my college business classes) – UNLESS the company has a physical presence inside of the state. I think states have been getting around this by saying that the internet means that you have a virtual presence inside of the state. As for international – I think only the federal government is allowed to impose taxes on that (once again, though, been way too long since business law).

          In any case, in the UK, taxes, or VAT, is included in the sales price. As an international customer, when you order, the VAT is taken off. Or at least some of the VAT. Wikipedia states that VAT is roughly 20% of the item’s price, and I certainly am not getting that much taken off. Well, maybe it is, because my final price includes shipping as well. So, yeah, that seems to fit – the 20% VAT is taken off, then they add shipping. For the Universal Monster set, it amounted to roughly a 5% savings over the listed price AFTER shipping.

          • EM

            I did not buy any mp3s from Amazon.co.uk. I think you misunderstood my description of the situation. I did not receive a £1 credit that I can apply to some future order. Rather, the total cost of my order was reduced by £1 because I unwittingly satisfied some condition, e.g., “buy 2 or more Universal Classic Monsters Blu-rays and save £1”.

            The sales tax/use tax formula, at least as practiced in Indiana, does not levy a special tax on interstate commerce. It applies to (nearly) all purchases of items “used” in state, regardless of where they were purchased. The formula does not cause Indiana residents to pay higher taxes on items bought out of state than on items bought in state. (Of course, a higher sales tax rate might be paid to another jurisdiction; but that would be strictly because of the laws of that jurisdiction, not the laws of Indiana, which would receive no sales or use taxes in that case.)

          • William Henley

            Ah, okay, I see. I misunderstood.

            That is still a very interesting tax law. I don’t think they are allowed to do that, but I would have to look at the law more closely. Many states are starting to do this, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes to court. There is some federal law about taxing on interstate commerce. It’s been 11 years since I took business law, but I clearly remember this. I am not sure what all the stipulations are, though. It’s part of the Commerce Clause. My understanding is that only the federal government can impose taxes between states, but the wording is pretty vague. It looks like there have been several court cases about it over the years. US laws are weird – laws are more about court cases than about how the laws are actually written. You can pretty much blatently brake the law, and then fight the law itself in court. You can then continue to break the law for years after the court case if you keep appealing – especially if the higher courts send stuff back to the lower courts. Truthfully, it is amazing that anything is able to be accomplished in our country.

  6. EM

    WOW. I wanted Blu-rays of some of the Universal monster flicks in the new collection, but not enough of them to warrant the asking price. Armed with the information presented here, I ended up going to Amazon.co.uk and purchasing singletons of Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Invisible Man. Thanks so much!!

    In the poll, I chose Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection to represent those purchases. I also chose four other items that I am interested in but have not yet decided to purchase. I’m a fan of John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s sci-fi comedy Dark Star, but I’m skeptical that the Blu would be a worthy upgrade. I’ve never seen the other three films I chose. A rental copy of Iron Sky is sitting in my living room, awaiting my viewing. I’m on a library wait list for The Hole. And I put Flying Swords of Dragon Gate on my Netflix queue tonight after reading a review, which was the first time I’d heard of the film (that I recall).

    • William Henley

      Makes me think – anyone know where we can get lists like this of movies released on a certain day for other terretories? Right now, I am hitting up Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr and amazon.de roughly once every few months and doing searches – and then on stuff like this, hitting them up on boxed sets that seem too expensive in the US.

      If anyone knows of a site…

      It would also be great if HDD would cover more music releases. Blu-Ray.com is really good about that, but I do most of my surfing in free time at work, and blu-ray.com is blocked (but HDD isn’t. The network guys must be fans of this site. :-) )

  7. Dan Jones

    I have read in other forums that Best Buy will not be releasing the Bond’s until Oct 23rd to coincide withe reissue of CR and QOS.