Blu-ray Highlights: Week of September 21st, 2014 – What an Excellent Day for an Exorcism

It may still be September, but ‘Halloween’ is already here. ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Saw’ too. This is a big week for horror franchise box sets on Blu-ray. If you’re a fan, prepare to part with some serious money.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/23/14)?

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New Releases

Neighbors‘ – Aging schlub Seth Rogen butts heads with college fratboy Zac Ephron in a rambunctious comedy that was surprisingly well received by both critics and audiences, considering the apathy (if not resentment) both stars have engendered over the last few years.

The Rover‘ – Robert Pattinson really, really wants to prove that he’s good for something more than ‘Twilight’, but has yet to fully convince anyone. Here, he teams with Guy Pearce in a post-apocalyptic-ish Australian drama from the director of ‘Animal Kingdom’. Reviews were mixed.

The Signal‘ – If you watched the Syfy channel at all this summer, you probably saw the commercial for this low-budget but ambitious sci-fi thriller about 800,000 times. I swear, for a few weeks at least, the network ran the same ad three times during every commercial break on every show it aired. For all that, I’m still not sure what the movie is about. Perhaps that’s a good thing. I’m kind of curious.

The Horror, The Horror…

William Friedkin’s original ‘Exorcist’ film has already been released on Blu-ray a couple times already, but the new ‘The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology‘ box set marks the first appearance for any of its sequels on the format. I’m fairly excited for ‘The Exorcist III’, which is very underrated. I’ve actually never seen John Boorman’s notorious flop ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’, and have a perverse desire to. Those two sequels and Renny Harlin’s ‘The Exorcist: The Beginning’ can each also be purchased separately, but as far as I can tell, Paul Schrader’s ‘Dominion: A Prequel to The Exorcist’ is only available in the box.

Because different entries are owned by different studios, the ‘Halloween‘ franchise has never before been available all together in one package until Scream Factory and Anchor Bay teamed up to straighten out the rights and make that happen. Fans seem to be pretty excited about that, even though most of these movies were already released on Blu-ray separately, and (for the most part) the studios have just put the old discs in the box without any remastering (including two different copies of the first movie, so that you can pick which of its controversial video transfers you prefer). Exclusive to this collection, however, is a so-called “Producer’s Cut” of ‘Halloween 6’ that is supposedly a lot better than the theatrical cut.

The title of the ‘Saw: The Complete Movie Collection‘ seems pretty disingenuous to me. Lionsgate hasn’t finished cranking out sequels in this series yet, has it? Sure, the last one was called ‘The Final Chapter’, but final chapters didn’t stop Jason or Freddy from coming back, and rumors abound that a ‘Saw 8’ is definitely in the works. A reboot is inevitable, in any case.

All on its own (because it was never franchised), Blue Underground gives Michele Soavi’s splatterific ‘StageFright‘ the high-def treatment.

For a classier sort of classic horror, the Criterion Collection offers up Jack Clayton’s ghost story ‘The Innocents‘, based on Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’. It might seem like a stretch to classify Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth‘ as horror, but it has witches and a ghost, and is a pretty horrific story from the title character’s p.o.v. The tale has been adapted to screen a few different times. Criterion gives us Roman Polanski’s 1971 version, which was the first movie he made in the wake of his wife’s murder.

Other Catalog Titles

Kino is busy very this week with Robert Wise’s submarine classic ‘Run Silent, Run Deep‘, Richard Brooks’ con artist drama ‘Elmer Gantry‘, John Frankenheimer’s legal thriller ‘The Young Savages‘, and J. Lee Thompson’s period adventure/romance ‘Taras Bulba‘.

Previously only available in its inferior “2.0” version which replaced much of the animation with modernized new footage that looked like TV-grade CGI from the early 2000s, the original 1995 theatrical version of Mamoru Oshii’s landmark anime ‘Ghost in the Shell‘ finally comes to Blu-ray in North America. I’m not sure how much to expect out of it, unfortunately. The 1995 cut was released on Blu-ray in Japan a few years back with a very underwhelming video transfer, and judging by the use of the same weird cover art (showcasing a character not even in the movie!), we may get the same thing here.


Last week was huge with TV content. This week pares back considerably, leaving us with two cheesy sci-fi shows (the second season of Syfy’s ‘Defiance‘ and the first season of CW’s ‘The 100‘), plus the very funny sketch comedy stylings of ‘Key & Peele‘ in their third season.

Even though I already have the first ‘Exorcist’ on Blu-ray, I may need to go for that Anthology set. ‘Run Silent, Run Deep’ and the two Criterions are also calling to me.

What interests you this week?


  1. I’m too broke to get anything this week, but that Macbeth looks really interesting. I think Barnes & Noble has a thanksgiving or fall sale, don’t they? The Halloween set looks cool as well, but how many times am I going to buy this fucking movie?! Hopefully my brother gets it and I can go through his set and I can judge whether it’s worth a 10th dip. I think I’m going to redbox The Rover tonight at midnight. I have to watch my Stage fright DVD to see if I’m going to want it on blu. Neighbors was funny but it can wait for a 12.99 or under.

  2. William Henley

    Ghost in the Shell for me. I don’t mind the rebuilds, Neon Genesis Evengelion rebuild was amazing. But Ghost In the Shell is a classic (well, so is Neon Genesis Evengelion for that matter), and I want the original!

    I may have to blind buy MacBeth – big fan of the play (and the Star Wars MacBeth that came out in the 90s before YouTube came out – – wow, that video is now 18 years old!)

  3. Chris B

    Hoping my Halloween set shows up in my mabox tommorow as promised by Amazon, been stoked for quite a while on it. Me and the wife are on a mission to watch all 10 movies by October 31st. Which may not sound like much of a challenge but between full time jobs and parenting duties we find our spare time rather minimal…here’s hopin we can pull it off.

    • EM

      To give myself ample time for horror-film viewing and other Samhain activities, I take a week’s vacation at Halloween. I call it Halloweek.

      Good luck with the mission!

    • William Henley

      I understand, I religiously try to start Thanksgiving with Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and try to finish all 8 by Christmas (sounds like a strange tradition, but there are sentimental reasons that I do it). It was so easy to do back when there were only 3 or 4 movies, but now that there is 8, and I have a pretty active social life, and with all that happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is actually always a struggle. Deathly Hallows usually gets finished up in January

  4. EM

    The Innocents…but not this week. I’ll probably wait for the November sales. (Do they start November 1? Maybe I can at least have it Halloween weekend…) I just plunked down a tidy sum on some Lovecraft books, and I did recently splurge for that awesome Phantom of the Opera showing with the live accompaniment (it’s not that the show was so expensive, but I had to rent a car to get there!), and I’ve also been bolstering my Deep Space Nine and Voyager DVD collections…

    Polanski’s Macbeth does nicely by the horror elements, but still I dream of a Macbeth horror film proper (I have a similar yen regarding A Christmas Carol, too!).

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