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DVD Releases for September 6, 2005 - Updated!

September 5th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases, classics and a few from the growing TV on DVD section.

An amazing selection this week with plenty of high quality releases. Of course, there's also a whole lot of quantity releases as well, so navigating your way through the hubbub might be tricky. The best of the first run releases is Crash - Buy from Amazon, the best of the special editions is Toy Story - Tenth Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon, and the best of the TV on DVD releases is Lost - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon. All three are excellent choices and deserve to be DVD Pick of the Week, but I have a feeling a Special Edition of Crash will come out sooner than later and would hold of on that one till after the New Year. Also, Degrassi Junior High - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon is a must have for all the fellow Canucks out there and worth picking up for everyone else.

Updated: All the other releases added today can be found at the end of the list.

3-Iron - Buy from Amazon
A nearly silent film from South Korea, this film enthralled critics, but is too much of a art-house film to satisfy most moviegoers. Like many other limited releases, special features are light with just the audio commentary (which is in Korean with English subtitles).

21 Jump Street - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The series that made Johnny Depp a star. The decline in quality continues, both with the shows themselves (the show turned into a teenage soap-opera), and with the amount of special features, (none). On a side note, the fourth season is scheduled to be released in less than 2 months.

The Bela Lugosi Collection - Buy from Amazon
Bela Lugosi became famous to American moviegoers for his portrayal of the title character in the 1931 horror classic Dracula. Unfortunately, that role also typecast him for life. This set contains five films, four of which also star Boris Karloff, and are in the midrange of his career, quality-wise. While his most famous film isn't in the bunch, but The Black Cat and The Raven are both excellent pieces. Unfortunately, there are no real special features with just a handful of trailers.

Boogeyman / Return of the Boogeyman - Buy from Amazon
This is the film from 1980 and its direct-to-video sequel from 1994 and not the 2005 film of the same name. There is not connection between the two.

The Cabinet of Caligari - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1962 film and not the vastly superior 1919 silent era film of nearly the same name. It's an interesting idea, but the execution is extremely flawed and the most important part of the film, the surprise twist, is obvious right from the beginning.

Calamari Wrestler - Buy from Amazon
A movie about a giant squid that wrestles. And to make it even more bizarre, no one seems to notice he's an ocean dwelling cephalopod... yeah, I have no idea how to explain this movie either. I don't even know what genre to put it under, Animals Gone bad and / or Creature Feature might work, or perhaps Cross Class Romance for the love story between the title character and Miyako, his rival's fiancée, Reincarnation could work as well for reasons that are too weird to get into; and Wrestling, of course. Special features are very good for such a niche market release, with a making of featurette, music video and promotional material. It's worth checking out for the fans of the bizarre and has a real chance at becoming a cult classic.

The Charles Dickens Collection - Buy from Amazon
Six mini-series from the BBC available in one Box Set or separately: Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Hard Times, Martin Chuzzlewit, and Our Mutual Friend. The Box Set is the better deal with a 33% discount compared to buying them separately and they are all equally high quality. The special features, on the other hand, are lacking with just three special features (one on Victorian life, another short film based on a Dickens story, and a recreation of one of Dickens live readings).

Charmed - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
It took a while for Paramount to get into the TV on DVD game because they were afraid of piracy. But now that they have they have been putting out set after set with absolutely no special features because nothing encourages piracy more than putting out featureless discs. Seriously. The best way to combat piracy is to create high quality content and sell it at a reasonable price as most people are honest and are willing to pay to support artists they like. However, if they feel like they are being ripped off they are much more likely to find alternatives like downloading them off the internet (which I don't recommend because it is most likely against the law where you live) or recording them with TiVo and / or DVD burner (which I do recommend).

The Chase - Buy from Amazon
A mediocre chase movie with some shoots fired at the news media along the way. The DVD has no special features and is best left on the shelf.

Crash - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
On of the best wide releases of the year and if the Oscars were held tomorrow it would undoubtedly win most of the awards. The DVD release is only average, on the other hand, with an audio commentary, 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, music video and introduction. I'm leaning towards holding off on buying the DVD until after the Oscars to see if a special edition will be released.

Dead and Breakfast - Buy from Amazon: Unrated, R-Rated, or UMD Mini
A low budget zombie splatter-thon that's sporadically funny but doesn't quite make it to the level the makers were aiming for. However, the DVD is amazing for such a small movie as Anchor Bay went all out on this one. There are not one but two audio commentaries, deleted & extended scenes, outtakes, and more. Great fun for fans of the genre.

The Deer Hunter - Legacy Series - Buy from Amazon
Another film in the Legacy series, this one is also an incredible film, but the DVD isn't really up to the Special Edition label with just an audio commentary and deleted scenes / outtakes. On the other hand, the video is much better than previous releases and for that fact alone the 2-disc set is worth the upgrade.

Degrassi Junior High - Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
The last season of Degrassi Junior High, but don't worry, the show became Degrassi High and lasted two more seasons. This season the show continued to look at high school life in a gripping and realistic way, wrestling with such difficult topics as sex, drugs, divorce, racism, homosexuality, and teenage parenthood (Spike has her daughter this season). It's worth picking up for anyone, but for Canadians it's your patriotic duty to support shows like this. (I don't think it comes out in Canada until next month, but I may forget to mention it then.) The season can also be purchased as three separate volumes, but the Box Set is the much better deal.

Doogie Howser, M.D. - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
This was a gimmick show - the child prodigy doctor - and gimmicky shows tend to run out of steam quite early. The coming-of-age aspect helped the show a bit, but it had enough problems that it couldn't rise above the realm of the guilty pleasure. Special features are about on par with the season one with a couple of interviews as the only real special features (the quiz and image gallery don't really count). And if you picked up and enjoyed that season, there's really no reason not to get this season as well.

Dressed to Kill - Buy from Amazon
This is the 1941 mystery movie and not the Sherlock Holmes or Brian De Palma film of the same name. It's a tight murder mystery movie and is worth checking out for fans of the genre, but the lack of special features on the DVD limits is value to the rental level. On a side note, the Sherlock Holmes movie is also being released tomorrow under the name Prelude to Murder in both a Colorized and Black and White format.

Fraggle Rock - Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
The creations of Jim Henson are still very popular with The Muppet Show - Season One - Special Edition one of the best selling TV on DVD sets for the second weekend in a row and now Fraggle Rock - Complete First Season is placing high on the Top Sellers chart. This show is aimed more at kids, while The Muppet Show had appeal for adults as well and the special features are also not as strong. It does have some good special features (behind-the-scenes, interviews, and more), which is good for a show that's more than twenty years old, and more than enough to make the set worth it for fans.

Garbo: The Signature Collection - Buy from Amazon
Ten films from the amazing career of Greta Garbo hit DVD this weekend both in a Box set or separately. The Garbo Silents: The Temptress (three silent films), Anna Christie, Mata Hari, Grand Hotel, Queen Christina, Anna Karenina, Camille, and Ninotchka. Not only is the Box set cheaper than buying the films separately, but it comes with a bonus disc featuring a feature-length documentary on the life of Greta Garbo. Spread across the 10-disc set are plenty of special features including audio commentaries, documentaries, and even different versions of the same films. This set is a must-have for fans of the early American cinema and a great set for everyone else.

The Girl in the Cafe - buy from Amazon
Originally a TV movie, this film is a love story / message movie that has amazing performances by Bill Nighy and others, but gets a little too preachy at times. It's still a sweet romance and with special features on par with your average first-run releases (audio commentary, making off, deleted scenes). It's worth checking out, but rent it first.

Hammer Horror Series - Buy from Amazon
8 classic horror films from the 1960s crammed onto 2 double-sided discs and completely devoid of special features. On the plus side, it's a cheap set to buy, but I'd rather pay more and get more.

Harry and Tonto - Buy from Amazon
The film that Art Carney won an Oscar for, beating in the process Albert Finney, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino. Combined, those four other actors have 6 Oscars and 32 nominations between them. Harry and Tonto was Art Carney's only nomination. That's not to say he didn't deserve the award as the film is fantastic and Art Carney is the reason for the film's success. The special features are light with just an audio commentary track, but what to you expect from a film that's 30 years old? An anniversary edition, of course.

Hellraiser: Hellworld - Buy from Amazon
Yet another direct-to-DVD release in the increasingly unnecessary Hellraiser series. It's better than the last movie, but then again, it would be hard pressed not to be.

The Holy Girl - Buy from Amazon
This film started out well topping the per theater charts but couldn't maintain its momentum as it expanded. It is a foreign language film, which would explain its niche market run, but the reviews were excellent and the film should perform much better on the home market.

The House on 92nd Street - Buy from Amazon
A very important film in the evolution of filmmaking as it was one of the first, if not the first to use a documentary-like style to tell a real life story. In this case the story is about the efforts to thwart Germany's attempts to steal the plans for an Atomic bomb. For that reason alone the film is amazing to watch. But it is also a good story in its own right and the DVD has more special features than one would expect from a film that's 60 years old (audio commentary, press book, image gallery, etc.).

House on Haunted Hill - Buy from Amazon
This is the original cult-classic from 1959 starring Vincent Price and not the recent remake, which was of dubious quality. This DVD contains the colorized version (yuck) and the original Black and White (yeah!), as well as more special features than one would expect for such an old movie (audio commentary, demonstration of the colorization process, etc.).

The Innocents - Buy from Amazon
A creepy and effective horror film from the 60s starring Deborah Kerr. I won't give away any details because it is worth watching, but the DVD doesn't have any special features so it doesn't rate about the rental level.

Killer Tomatoes Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon: Killer Tomatoes Strike Back and Killer Tomatoes Eat France
The first movie of this franchise was stupid, but it was supposed to be stupid. The second carried on the B-Movie traditions pretty well. But these two movies just take the joke way too a far. Strike Back is painfully bad and while Eat France is an improvement it's still not worth picking up unless you are a hardcore fan.

Lipstick & Dynamite - The First Ladies of Wrestling - Buy from Amazon
A documentary look at the world of women's wrestling. The film tells a lot of amazing stories but is not nearly as in-depth as one would like. The film barely made a ripple at the box office and that would usually mean it would be released on a featureless disc; however, that is not the case here as there are plenty of special features including an audio commentary, a couple of Q&A sessions, behind the scenes look and more.

Lost - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
I watched five, maybe ten minutes of the pilot episodes before I turned off the TV. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to watch all 24 episodes from the series in a row and the show was going to be so good that there would be no other way to do it justice. So I decided to avoid the show for the rest of the season and buy it when it came out on DVD. I figured it would come out just before season two debuted and I figured the DVD would be amazing, and I was right on both counts. The show is top notch and the studio spared no expense making sure the DVD release was just has high quality with a ton of special features. Out of the 24 episodes in season one, four or five have audio commentaries depending on whether you count the 2-hour pilot as one or two episodes. The rest of the special features are loaded onto a separate disc and have a total runtime of more than 3 hours, depicting the evolution of the series from an initial concept to the filming of the season finale, with practically every point in-between covered. Easily the DVD pick or the week and I can't emphasize that enough.

Macgyver - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
Typical Paramount TV on DVD release. Good show, zero special features. And the quality of the picture is really bad, so bad that it's better to catch the show on cable.

Millennium - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
The third and final season from this series hits DVD. It's from the same creator as the X-Files, but because the show was more graphic in its violence it never garnered the same audience. (Today the added violence would probably help the show, if it were on cable.) Special features are about average for a TV on DVD release, audio commentary tracks on two episodes, bonus crossover episode from the X-files, and a few featurettes. If you own the previous releases, then there's really no reason not to pick this season up.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation - Buy from Amazon
This isn't a bad movie, but considering the amount of talent that went into making it (stars James Stewart & Maureen O'Hara, director Henry Koster, and screenwriter Nunnally Johnson), it isn't as great as it ought to be. Even so, the film does have plenty of fans who have been waiting for this film to come out on DVD, they just probably wished there were special features.

Omen IV - The Awakening - Buy from Amazon
This is the fourth film in a series that probably should have ended after the first film.

The Prophecy: Forsaken - Buy from Amazon
This is the fifth film in a series that probably should have ended after the first film.

Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
This is a great show and it's fun to watch, but there have been some issues with the previous DVD releases (like the watermark, which is a stupid idea). Also, the video's a little on the poor side, but better than what you'll see on TV. The special features are good for a show this old, but there's not much regarding the historical importance of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Also coming out tomorrow is the first volume of the Fractured Fairy Tales, and while this is a nice set, I'd stick with the full season sets.

Satisfaction - Buy from Amazon
This movie is only noteworthy because it's the first onscreen credit for Julia Roberts. It is an otherwise forgettable movie.

Save the Green Planet - Buy from Amazon: Tame Cover or Torture Cover
An excellent genre bending movie from South Korea. Lee Byeong-Gu is a man plagued by bad luck, but he doesn't believe in luck, so all that's gone wrong with his life must be part of a huge conspiracy. But who could be powerful enough to orchestrate such a cunning plan? Aliens, of course! Aliens must have invaded and taken human form, including his boss. So he kidnaps his boss and tortures him till he confuses his alien identity and tells him what their evil plan is. This film is as violent as it is strange and is not for the faint of heart, but worth checking out nonetheless. One last note, there are many versions of this DVD for different regions, and if you have a region 0 DVD player I'd suggest importing the Region 3 2-disc edition.

Smile - Buy from Amazon
This is a movie with good intentions, but it's a message piece that's way too schmaltzy to be effective. If the attempts to play on the audience's heartstrings were a little less ham-fisted the movie could have succeeded.

The Sting - Legacy Series - Buy from Amazon
I love con-man movies. It's just something about a well executed grift that I find endlessly entertaining and out of all the con-man movies out there, this is arguably the best. Robert Redford stars as Johnny Hooker, a inexperience con-man whose mentor was recently murdered by a mobster played by Robert Shaw. He then teams up with a veteran of the long-con, Henry Gondorff, played by Paul Newman, to extract some revenge. At first glance the special features on this 2-disc set seem quite light; there's only one real special feature, a making of documentary. But the retrospective is in-depth and worth watching twice. Ok, maybe it's not quite enough to justify the Special Edition label, but it's more than enough to make the DVD worth picking up.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Legacy Series Edition - Buy from Amazon
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the greatest movies ever made, AFI has it ranked number 34 on Top 100 American Films. This 2-disc set has a number of special features including an audio commentary, a few award ceremony appearances by Gregory Peck and two documentaries, one on Gregory Peck and the other on the making of the movie. (The later was part of the previous release.) Worth the upgrade, and should be in everyone's DVD collection.

Toy Story - Tenth Anniversary Edition - Buy from Amazon: 2-Disc DVD Edition or UMD Mini
I can't believe this movie is ten years old. I can't believe after ten years and six movies Pixar hasn't made a movie that wasn't an instant classic. The movie itself should be in everyone's collection, the real question is, is the Tenth Anniversary Edition worth upgrading from previous releases. If you just own the regular edition, either as a stand-alone or box set, then this version is definitely worth the upgrade. Those that were able to get the Ultimate Box Set Edition will also want to upgrade as the Tenth Anniversary Edition contains all the best features of that set, plus many more (although the box itself isn't as cool). Special features include a new full-length audio commentary, interviews with cast, crew, and others (including Buzz Aldrin), making of featurettes, behind the scenes featurettes, retrospective, deleted scenes, music videos, games, tons of images and more. Also of note, the sequel is getting a special edition of its own in a few months in case you didn't want to give up your box set and get just one of the films.

Updated: Here's a few more DVD releases coming out today that weren't on yesterday's column:

The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing - Buy from Amazon
This documenatary was previously released as a special feature on the Bullitt 2-Disc Special Edition and it's a much better deal to pick up the movie as part of that release instead of separately. Heck, splurge a little and pick up the whole Steve McQueen Collection.

Disney Princess Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon: Sing-a-Long - Volume 2 and Stories - Volume 3
Proving yet again that Princesses are ever-popular with little girls. The first DVD contains a dozen songs and include a Karaoke mode while the second DVD contains three stories and a story builder.

The Doctor and the Devils - Buy from Amazon
Based on a true story, this movie tells the story of Doctor Thomas Rock, whose needs fresh cadavers to experiment on and to learn more about human anatomy but the religious environment of the day restricts his access to cadavers on religious grounds so he hires two gravediggers to get him fresh corpses. But these men quickly figure out the fresher the corpse, the more money the Doctor is willing to pay; and what better way is there to get fresh corpses than to kill the people yourself. The story is a fascinating look at the interaction of science, religion, and morals but the movie itself is mere mediocre.

Doctor Who Doubleshot - Buy from Amazon: Episode 45: The Mind Robber and Episode 92: Horror of Fang Rock
I like Doctor Who. I've always enjoyed watching the shows when they are on, but I'm not fanatical about the show, unlike some people. I've always wanted to pick up the Doctor Who series on DVD, but there are just so many of them, and it's so daunting that I haven't even started. Those who will pick up the sets will be rewarded with plenty of special features including retrospectives, commentaries, a look at Doctor Who collectibles, and much, much more. On a side note, there are more than a dozen other Doctor Who DVDs being re-released today, just in case anyone needed to patch up some wholes in their collection.

Fat Albert's Halloween Special - Buy from Amazon
The prime time special from 1977 hits the home market today, and while it has held up better than many shows from the 70s, its primary appeal is nostalgia.

Fear and Trembling - Buy from Amazon
Amelie was just hired by a Japanese firm as a translator, but her career at the firm is in trouble, as she never seems to fit in with the strict social code. The film could be described as a strange mix of Office Space and Lost in Translation, but it's the compelling characters that keep the viewer hooked. Special features are on par with most limited release DVDs with just the making of featurette as its only real special features.

Lost - The Series Pilot Episodes - Buy from Amazon: UMD Mini for PSP
With the Complete First Season coming out on DVD, the 2-hour Pilot movie is also being released, but on UMD Mini. Unlike most other UMD releases, this one is not devoid of special feature as it has a behind-the-scenes look, audition tapes, and more. Obviously if you had to choose between getting this release or the full season set, go with the latter, but this is one of the best UMD releases to date.

Marksman - Buy from Amazon
Yet another Direct-to-DVD release from Wesley Snipes, who at one time had a pretty good career. He does have a few films coming out next year, but only one looks likely to hit theatres. On the other hand, his career box office earnings have hit $1 billion and he is still making a ton of money.

Saturday Night Live - Buy from Amazon: Best of Dan Aykroyd, Best of John Belushi, Best of Gilda Radner, and The First Five Years
Normally I hate TV on DVD releases that are not full season sets, but it's very unlikely that full season sets for this show will ever come out at there are just too many episodes, so you have to take what you can get. The first three sets released today have the same problem nearly all Best of Sets have, no two people can agree on what is the best, but they all include some very funny stuff as well as more special features than one would think. The First Five Years is the 2-hour special that aired earlier in the year and it looks at the beginnings of the show when it was considered revolutionary (and not an effort in mediocrity like today). The last release also has a companion documentary that runs just over an hour and is equally compelling to watch.

Sherlock Holmes - Terror by Night - Buy from Amazon
I briefly mentioned that another Sherlock Holmes movie, Prelude to Murder, is coming out tomorrow, so I'd thought I'd mention this one as well. Like that release, this one is in both a Colorized and Black and White format and has no real special features.

So Little Time - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
There have been four volumes of this series released on DVD already, each on containing 6 episodes. There were only 26 episodes made so that means this set only has 2 episodes not previously released on DVD. Granted, this set is much cheaper and does contain a behind-the-scenes featurette, but it's not worth the upgrade for all but the most hard core Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fans.

Somewhere in the Night - Buy from Amazon
What would you do if you lost your memory and couldn't remember who you were? You'd look for clues to help you remember. But what if the all the clues point to you being a complete bastard? This is the situation facing ex-soldier George W. Taylor who after losing his memory discovers he may be involved in with a crocked P.I., mixed up with the mob, and may even be a murderer. The film is a great example of the Film Noir genre and the DVD includes an audio commentary by film historian, Eddie Muller. Definitely worth checking out.

Thunderstruck - Buy from Amazon
A Rock 'n' Roll infused Road Trip movie from Australia. It's typical example of the genre and while there are many wacky characters / situations, the movie as a whole is not as strong as the sum of its parts. Special features include and an audio commentary track, making of featurette and deleted scenes.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Crash, Holy Girl, Bin-jip, Fear and Trembling, Smile, Lipstick & Dynamite, Jigureul Jikyeora! (Save the Green Planet!)