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.
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.]
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.
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‘.
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?