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DVD Releases for October 17, 2006

October 16th, 2006

It's a rather slow week for DVD releases with fewer than normal instantly jumping out as must haves. There were some contenders for DVD Pick of the Week with the top two being Masters of Horror: Larry Cohen - Pick Me Up - Buy from Amazon and Over the Hedge - Buy from Amazon. If I were to give the edge to one of them, it would be Over the Hedge.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The master of suspense returns for a second season. The show itself continues to be amazing. In fact, some would argue this was the best season of its run. The 5-disc set is sadly devoid of special features, but at least they are on 5 single-sided discs and not double-sided discs like the first season. That set, and the double-sided discs gave a lot of people problems, so many are celebrating.

American Dreamz - Buy from Amazon
A political satire that relies too often on the easy joke to be effective. Some parts of the film work; not enough to give overall positive reviews, but enough for it to be worth a rental. This rating is further enforced by the total lack of special features. Granted, the film... well, it bombed in theatres, but I'm still disappointed that they didn't include at least some extras. Audio commentary track, fluff promotional piece, anything.

Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil - Buy from Amazon
Behind Enemy Lines was a mediocre but passable action film. This direct-to-DVD sequel is doesn't even deserve those faint words of praise. There are better special features than average for a direct-to-DVD release, but it's still worth no more than a rental. Can also be bought with the first film for just a few dollars more, but I'd only pick up the box set if you really want the first film.

Big Love - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The latest HBO series to hit DVD. This one is about Bill Henrickson and his three wives. When the show was first announced it was attacked by some that thought it would attack Mormons by showing them in a bad light and lumping all members with the fundamentalists who still practice polygyny (and it is polygyny as you never see a woman with multiple husbands). But if anything the show goes out of its way to make it your typical family drama. Granted, the family is dysfunctional, but so are most on TV, or in real life for that matter. The price is high for TV on DVD and the extras are only average (audio commentary tracks on 3 episodes and a featurette about the opening), which limits its appeal to the more hardcore fans.

Blackwater Valley Exorcism - Buy from Amazon
Yet another pseudo-horror film that tries to pretend that it is based on a true story. A terrible movie filled with plot holes, bad logic, bad acting, bad everything. Skip it.

Blu-Ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: Glory Road and The Haunted Mansion
Just the two releases this week with Glory Road being the better movie but The Haunted Mansion is more visual and benefits more from the HD experience. However, neither is worth the upgrade.

The Break-Up - Buy from Amazon: DVD or HD-DVD
One of the bigger hits of the summer despite being assaulted by critics. The reviews were bad, but roughly on par with the genre. Part of the problem is the film tries to add a darker edge that will likely turn off those looking for a light romantic comedy while not adding enough to stand on its own. The DVD is well done with an audio commentary track, deleted / extended scenes (including an alternate ending), outtakes and more. Worthy of a rental, but not much more.

The Cars Unlocked - The Live Performances - Buy from Amazon
Great band, great songs, terrible audio. Just completely unacceptable. Seeing the DVD did make me want see if they had a compilation DVD of all their music videos, but alas, none was found. Speaking of their music videos, I was flipping through the channel the other day and one of their videos was playing. Hello Again, I think. It was the one with Andy Warhol in it. Anyway, I was watching the video and was shocked to see nudity. I don't remember there being nudity in the video when it first came out. Granted, the song's more than 20 years old, but I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that.

Charmed - The Complete Sixth Season - Buy from Amazon
Good show, if a little goofy at times, but the 6-disc set is completely devoid of special features. However, fans of the show that have been buying the full season sets from the beginning are used to that by now. Can also be purchased with the previous seasons as part of a package deal.

CSI - New York - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This spin-off is too similar to the original for me; it's practically plagiarism. This bugs me so much that it affects my enjoyment of the original. And considering how frequently these shows are on syndication, I see little reason to pick up on DVD sets, no matter how well done they are.

Feast - Buy from Amazon
A horror-comedy with definite cult potential. There's a good mix of humor and gore, a lot more of the latter, but it plays nicely with the horror stereotypes and that should make it an enjoyable experience for gorehounds and the more casual fans. Adding to the value are the special features, which include audio commentary track, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), outtakes, and a couple of making of featurettes. Easily worth picking up, and hopefully Project Greenlight - Season 3 will be released shortly as a companion piece.

Going Back - Buy from Amazon
A ultra-low budget indie from the early 1980s that hasn't been in print for more than 20 years. Would be nearly wholly unremarkable except that it is a early starring role for Bruce Campbell and one of his few dramatic roles. The movie suffers from the limitations of its low budget, but for fans of Bruce Campbell the audio commentary track alone is worth the price of the DVD. Then again, an audio commentary track by Bruce Campbell would make just about any DVD worth the price. He could do a commentary track for a movie he had no connection to other than he watched it once or twice and he would still be compelling to listen to.

Hard Luck - Buy from Amazon
Yet another direct-to-DVD film starring Wesley Snipes. I guess rumors that he is difficult on set have really hurt his career.

Icons of Horror - Boris Karloff - Buy from Amazon
Four of Boris Karloff's lesser films. The best of the bunch is The Black Room while The Boogie Man Will Get You is a pretty good horror-comedy. The 2-disc set has no special features and that limits its appeal to the more hardcore Boris Karloff fans.

La Femme Nikita - The Complete Fifth Season - Buy from Amazon
A Canadian show based on La Femme Nikita, which was also the basis for Point of No Return. As I've said in the past, it's not as good as the original, but better than the remake. This is the final season, and it lasted only 8 episodes. Fortunately they were 8 great episodes. Special features are average and include deleted scenes, retrospective and intros. Easily worth picking up for fans of the show.

Michael Caine Collection - Buy from Amazon: Deadfall, The Magnus, and Peeper
Three lesser films from Michael Caine coming out on three rather weak discs. I can't imagine there are a lot of people that were eagerly awaiting the release of these movies on DVD, not even Michael Caine.

Masters of Horror: Larry Cohen - Pick Me Up - Buy from Amazon
A battle between serial killers with Fairuza Balk caught in the middle. Not one of the best episodes from the series, but better than average with several great performances including the two villains, Michael Moriarty and Warren Kole. Like the rest of the releases in this series, the special features are simply amazing with an audio commentary track, several interviews, behind-the-scenes and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the genre and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Murder, She Wrote - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The series lasted 12 seasons on the air and maintained a high quality level throughout. However, the DVDs have been a disappointment as there are no special features (bonus episodes from future seasons don't count). At least Universal has given up on the flawed double-sided discs and are now using single-sided discs.

The Omen - Buy from Amazon
Many critics called this film a pointless remake and most moviegoers agreed as it struggled at the box office. The main problem is the original is still effective and wasn't rendered inert due to outdated special effects. As for the extras, there's a good mix of them including an audio commentary track, making of featurette, two extended scenes and an alternate ending. There's also a featurette that spends nearly its entire 20-minute running time trying to convince viewers that the movie is more of a documentary than a work of fiction. It would have been better if they took this effort and re-directed it towards making a better movie. Can also be purchased with the previous movies as part of a box set, but the first film is the only one worth owning.

The Other - Buy from Amazon
This is an amazingly suspensful film about two brothers, Niles and Holland, one of whom is dead, maybe. There are so many questions about this movie and your interpretation could probably be used in a psychological exam and quite frankly I'd rather not let mine interfere with anyone else's enjoyment of the movie. Unfortunately, the film is not a very well known movie and the DVD is devoid of special features. However, its replay value is high enough that it is worth picking up.

Over the Hedge - Buy from Amazon
One of the best-reviewed blockbusters of the summer, it nonetheless missed lofty expectations. Although, to be fair, it was clear it was going to show a healthy profit as soon as the Friday estimates were released. As for the DVD, it is packs with a good mix of extras aimed at kids and the adult collector. This includes the ever-present audio commentary, all-new short, audio commentary for the all-new short, behind-the-scenes featurette, featurette on the voice cast, and more. Easily worth picking up and a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

Reds - 25th Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon
This wasn't the first film Warren Beatty directed, but it was his best. Epic in every sense of the word (including its more than 3-hour running time), the film earned 12 Oscar Nominations and won 3 of them, including best director for Warren Beatty. Sadly, there's no audio commentary track on the DVD, but there are seven featurettes on various topics that help fill out the DVD and add an extra layer to the experience. Easily worth picking up.

Rest Stop - Buy from Amazon: R-rated or Unrated
One of hundreds of low budget horror films that get dumped direct-to-DVD every year. This one is about average for the genre but there's not much here in terms of extras or replay value. Worth a rental, but that's about it. On a side note, that Unrated label is worth its weight in gold. The R-rated disc places 14,444 on while the Unrated one is 248th.

Starsky & Hutch - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
Nostalgia strikes again. The fourth and final season of this buddy cop show from the 70s hits the home market on this featureless 5-disc set. Fans of the show who have purchased the first three seasons will obviously want to pick this one up, but it won't win over many new fans.

That '70s Show - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
One of the most consistently funny shows during its seven-year run. (Yes, I'm aware it actually ran for eight years, but for many, me included, the show ended when Topher Grace left.) Season 5 starts out where season 4 ended, with Donna and Kelso off in California, and ends with the kids graduating from high school. In between there are dozens of story lines including several relationships (some more successful than others), in-laws, accidents, and at least one arrest. Unfortunately, while the episodes are still great, the 4-disc set is a little weak with just a retrospective as the only real special feature. Still, it's easily worth picking up, but a few audio commentary tracks could have made it the DVD Pick of the Week.

They All Laughed - Buy from Amazon
Ironically, for a movie called They All Laughed, it is tragically short on humor. Add in zero in terms of special features and this DVD is not even worth a rental.


Filed under: Video Releases, Over the Hedge, The Break-Up, The Haunted Mansion, The Omen, Glory Road, Feast, American Dreamz