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Blu-ray Highlights for October 9th, 2012 – Phone Home

This week’s Blu-ray releases are headlined by two major sci-fi movies that both feature space aliens with heads shaped like male genitalia. That’s weird, right?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (10/9/12)?

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Alien Nation

E.T.’s face looks like a scrotum. Don’t be mad at me for pointing this out; you’ve always known it to be true. I have no idea what Steven Spielberg or his creature designer Carlo Rambaldi were thinking, but… damn. Just look at that thing. Or don’t. It’s kind of terrifying. Was ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial‘ such a massive success despite this fact, or because of it? That’s a question for the ages. Back in 1982, the movie was a smash hit that quickly rose to become the highest-grossing movie of all time, and held that position until Spielberg toppled his own record 11 years later with ‘Jurassic Park’. In his Blu-ray review, E. says that the film is still a masterpiece. I don’t think I’ve ever been that warm to it, personally. This is Spielberg at his schmaltziest, and I’ve always found the allegedly-cuddly alien pretty creepy. But don’t listen to me; the movie is still beloved by many, and frankly I don’t think I’ve watched it since the ’80s anyway. The Blu-ray preserves the original theatrical cut, not that misguided revisionist crap with the guns replaced by walkie-talkies that Spielberg tried to foist on DVD a decade ago. (He later apologized for that.) It’s not my thing, but if you’re a fan, by all means treasure this.

The phallic imagery of the alien in ‘Alien’ has long been noted. In his insanely terrible prequel ‘Prometheus‘ (and yes, deniers, it absolutely is a prequel), Ridley Scott takes that a step further by having one of the characters reach out to stroke an angry albino penis monster. As I believe I made clear during its theatrical release, I thought that this movie was a gigantic pile of crap. Some of you disagreed with me. So be it. Feel free to waste your money on the Blu-ray, available in either 2D or 2.5D versions. (I wouldn’t be so generous as to call what I saw in the theater “3D,” but maybe that was an IMAX issue.)

New Releases

In other stuff you probably don’t care about, ‘The Raven‘ would have us believe that Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) played detective to hunt down a serial killer imitating his works. This looks like a low-rent knockoff of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or ‘From Hell’, and was a big flop in theaters. I don’t imagine it will have much life on disc either.

Tom Cruise squandered whatever good will he’d earned in ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ with the corny jukebox musical ‘Rock of Ages‘. Despite the enormous popularity of the stage version, the movie looked awful and nobody went to see it. Based on the trailers, I plan to avoid it as well.

Fans of the band LCD Soundsystem may enjoy the concert documentary ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits‘. I might have more interest in this if I’d ever heard of LCD Soundsystem or knew a single song they’ve played.

Catalog Titles

Universal may have pushed back the release of its Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection box set due to reported quality control issues, but Warner is moving ahead with individual editions of the director’s classics ‘Dial M for Murder‘ (in the original 3D!) and ‘Strangers on a Train‘. The latter is one of my favorite Hitchcock films.

In addition to those, Warner has quite an eclectic mix of other catalog titles available The studio gives us a double-dose of Bette Davis in the psycho thriller ‘Dead Ringer‘ and the camp classic ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?‘. From there, we move onto the Cold War thriller ‘Ice Station Zebra‘ with Rock Hudson, and finally to the deliriously goofy 1986 musical remake of ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘.

Indie label Twilight Time has new 3,000-copy limited editions of Wolfgang Petersen’s 1985 sci-fi opus ‘Enemy Mine‘ (that’s the one where Louis Gossett, Jr. plays a pregnant lizard man) and Tom Savini’s 1990 ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ remake. The zombie flick is already sold out. If you haven’t been following the controversy about its drastically recolored video transfer (in which daytime scenes have been graded to look like night), be sure to read Nate’s review (linked above). You may be glad you missed this one.

In preparation for the long-delayed remake (finally scheduled for theatrical release in November), MGM reminds us just how cheesy and lame the original ‘Red Dawn‘ was.

Disney may be slow to roll out its animated classics, but the studio has been very generous with its second-tier titles lately. This week brings us ‘The Great Mouse Detective‘ from 1986.

In ‘The Lina Wertmüller Collection‘, Kino gives us a trio of the famed Italian director’s films from the 1970s: ‘Love & Anarchy’, ‘The Seduction of Mimi’ and ‘All Screwed Up’.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Vivendi’s two-disc collection of ‘Max Fleischer’s Superman‘ cartoon!

Television

On the TV front, Fox rolls out the seventh seasons of both ‘Bones‘ and the hilarious ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘, plus the third season of (equally hilarious) ‘The League‘. Meanwhile, Image has the complete first season of something called ‘Holliston‘ that I’d never even heard of before. Some Googling tells me that it airs on FEARnet. I can’t say that I’ve ever even turned on that channel.

Both of the Hitchcocks are must-haves. That’s it for me this week, though. How about you?

18 comments

  1. William Henley

    Going broke this week. I have Dial M For Murder 3d, ET, and The Great Mouse Detective arriving today. I am still opening up my movies from the last couple of weeks. I would have had Little Shop of Horrors as well, but somehow missed that it was coming out.

    Will probably throw in Dial tonight when I get home.

  2. Jeez Josh, I can understand hating on Prometheus, even though I watched it already understanding that Ridley was going for a totally different type of movie, but why the hate for the original Red Dawn.

    Cheesy, hell yeah, Lame?? Not by a mile, they should have just remade the original as is and not updated the bad guys. Especially if they didn’t have the stones to apparently deal with china about it.

    Avenge Meeeeeee!!!!!!

    HDS 4eva!!!!

    Wolverines!!!!!!!!

  3. EM

    Preordered E.T., Little Shop of Horrors, and Strangers on a Train.

    Interested in seeing Cat in Paris, Ice Station Zebra, and Magical Mystery Tour.

  4. Shayne Blakeley

    Glad to know I’m not the only person who couldn’t give two shits about E.T. I chose nothing for this week, but I’ll probably end up picking up Prometheus eventually via swap or something. I certainly won’t be shelling out any cash though.

  5. Barsoom Bob

    For those that enjoyed Prometheus, this set is pretty well tricked out. Quality is great and Sir Ridley is a man of his word, there is fully 40 minutes of deleted scenes.

    Included is an alternate version of the guy that falls face down into the gunk, when he returns to the ship that was done with a CGI monster, but discarded when Ridley wanted the last vestiges of the guy’s humanity visible through the transformation.

    There is a whole conversation that takes place after the Weyland party awakens the Engineer. It culminates with Peter Weyland demanding immortality because he is a God like him because he created such a perfect specimen in David. This is when the Engineer promptly rips David’s head off and goes spar on Weyland and the rest of the party. Hubris.

    Really detailed making of featurette, which includes footage of Geiger visiting the their design headquaters.

    EW has a video clip of the original ending to Little Shop of Horrors that is a hoot, which is included on the new blue-ray. This sequence alone is forceing me to upgrade to this blu from my DVD copy. This version sticks to the real play’s ending but then goes on for about 5 minutes more with Audrey II rampaging through NYC in a Giant Monster B-movie mayhem homage. Done with puppets and minatures. Loved it.

  6. BambooLounge

    A lot of good catalog stuff I want coming out this week, especially that Wertmuller collection, but with the way prices drop over time, the fact that my collection is pretty large, and I have Netflix streaming now, no rush to purchase them all.

    Did get Red Dawn already though as it is only $5 at Best Buy with the Upgrade & Save promotion.

  7. Josh Zyber
    Author

    I was in Best Buy over the weekend doing the “Upgrade and Save” DVD trade-in thing, and was tempted to use my credit to buy Prometheus, if only to see if the 3D is any better at home than it was in the theater. Ultimately, I stayed strong and held to my convictions. I picked up Cabin in the Woods instead. :)

    • EM

      Prometheus is darn purty, and it actually has some good ideas. But for me as well, it doesn’t come together. I keep hoping there’ll be an alternate cut—or a half dozen, like some other Ridley Scott movie—that will magically turn this mess into a masterpiece…unlikely though that seems at this point.

      • JM

        ‘Prometheus’ isn’t ‘Kingdom of Heaven.’ The deleted/alternative scenes put back in would only make the movie worse.

        The 3.5-hour making of perfectly explained how the movie developed into what it is. A small team of passionate artists (a lot of them young) on a short schedule with a limited budget tried to execute Ridley Scott’s nebulous vision of what the Space Jockey story should be.

        The sequel, ‘Paradise,’ with a new writer and a more epic concept, has 1000x more potential than any other sci-fi movie in development.

        I hope they fly to the engineer home world, get shot down, the black goo causes an alien pandemic, and it’s Noomi’s journey to escape hell.
        + Robo Fassbender would make an interesting / sacrificial love interest.

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          How sad is it that $130 million is considered a “limited budget”? The only thing “limited” about Prometheus was the imagination of its creative team.

          Prometheus had tremendous potential, yet squandered it at every level. I would not hold your breath for the potential of the sequel.

          • JM

            I wonder what 19-year-old Josh Zyber would have thought of ‘Prometheus’?

            Consider FOX’s lineup for 2012…

            Ice Age 4, Prometheus, Taken 2, This Means War, Chronicle, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, The Watch, The Three Stooges.

            I would rather watch Hollywood invest in ambition and fail, than to reduce their risk-taking to an even lower common denominator.

        • Barsoom Bob

          Siding with JM on this one. This movie was pared down, for the better, to purposely make you think and figure it out for yourself.

          To say anything about this movie not being imaginative, besides the script contrivances to move the story along, is being very short sighted.

          2001. A classic. Covers a lot of the same territory as this one, only with cool Kubrick detachment, no gore and a much more benign conclusion.

          When 2001 came out it was a gigantic WTF! to anyone that wasn’t dropping acid.

          Fortunately, I and a lot of other people were, and personally I wrote a college, freshman english paper decoding it, which got me a very good grade. Then I ditto’d up some copies and actually made a few dollars selling “the answers” outside the Cinerama theater on Broadway where it was playing. It took a while for that picture to absorb into public consciousness and the gain the stature it has today.

          Josh, I hope you appreciate the irony of purchasing Cabin over Prometheus. A film that posits that “you have to have the characters do exactly the stupid wrong thing to get to the conclusion that the audience realy wants,” when your main criticism of Prometheus is all about how stupid the characters acted.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            The characters in Cabin in the Woods are manipulated into making stupid decisions. The whole movie is about why they do the things they do.

            The characters in Prometheus are all just morons from Frame 1.

            Suggesting that Prometheus is on the same level as 2001: A Space Odyssey is an insult to the latter, to filmmaking as an artform, and to the intelligence of all human beings who have ever lived.

  8. Barsoom Bob

    Come on now, I didn’t say that, I said that he was trying for the same kind of, archetypical, I’m not going to tell you, figure it out yourself, type of an experience.

    I know the difference between these movies, even if I do think it is a bit closer to it’s desired goal than you do. I am entitled to my opinion you know.