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DVD Releases for October 25, 2005

October 24th, 2005

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here are the new and classice movies, and a few from the TV on DVD section. This week the selection is quite strong with several first run releases, but again the best of the best come from the TV on DVD category. Looney Tunes - Golden Collection - Volume Three is easily the best release of the week and should be in everyone's collection. Kids in the Hall - Complete Season 3 is also a must have, while another Canadian show, Puppets Who Kill - Complete 2nd Season, gets an honorable mention.

3rd Rock from the Sun - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The first season release of this show was the syndicated versions, which pissed off a lot of fans. Season Two includes the two-part season finale in 3-D, and since it wasn't shown in 3-D in syndication, there's a good chance that the rest of the shows are not the syndicated versions either, but I'd hold off buying the set until that could be confirmed. As for special features, there are some interviews, outtakes, and more; it's enough to add to the value of the set, but not so much that it's a real selling point.

Alias - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
The show bounced back from season 3, but it still wasn't as good as seasons one and two. Special features are strong with audio commentary tracks on four episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews, and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the series.

American Gothic - Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
"Someone's at the door." A show that was ahead of its time; it was just too gruesome for network TV when it debuted in 1995, but today with the myriad of cable channels it would have found a place to survive and thrive. At least fans of the show will get to enjoy all 22 episodes created, including four that were never aired. Special features include audio commentary on the pilot and deleted and extended scenes. This isn't an overwhelming amount of special features, but a lot more than many short-lived shows get.

Bewitched - Buy from Amazon
One of many TV adaptations to have hit the screens in the past few years, this one was not one of the better ones. Special features are good for a first-run release with an audio commentary track, text-based trivia track, making of featurette, interviews and more. There's a lot here, but it's mostly fluff and not quite up to the Special Edition label.

Bewitched - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon: Black & White or Colorized
Like the first season, this season comes in two choices: Black & White or Colorized. And like the previous season, the choice is simple: pick the Black & White version. The only special feature on the 5-disc set is a single, seven-minute long featurette called Bewitched, Bewildered, and Be-Bloopered.

Bird With the Crystal Plumage - Buy from Amazon
The first film directed by Italian filmmaker, Dario Argento, and it widely regarded as his best work. The film has been released on DVD before, but this version has a better tranfer and includes some additional footage that was lost before. Special features include an audio commentary track, a 45-minute making of documentary, which is broken up into four smaller pieces, and several trailers. Overall, it's worth the upgrade.

A Bridge too Far - 2-Disc Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
An amazing cast and epic battle scenes are the highlights of this 1970s World War II movie about the doomed Operation Market Garden, a plan to capture three key bridges in the Netherlands that would have cut off the Germany war machine and ended the war practically in one quick stroke. However, events would conspire against the Allies, making success impossible. The previous release was practically devoid of special features and while this 2-disc set must have some special features, not even the studio's listing mention what they could be.

Cannibal Holocaust - Buy from Amazon
One of those films that survives on controversy. Cannibal Holocaust is widely regarded as one of the most gory movies every made and was banned in nearly 60 countries. Of course, that's the main selling point for fans of this type of film. Like Dawn of the Dead, there's actually an interesting idea at the core of this film, but unlike that movie, Cannibal Holocaust buries it too deep in gore and shocks to be of any interest to mainstream moviegoers. The special features are excellent, but the content of the film will limit its appeal to a niche market.

Danger Mouse - The Complete Seasons 3 & 4 - Buy from Amazon
Danger Mouse and Penfold are back to save the world in this secret agent spoof. This is a hilarious show and even without much in the way of special features, it is still worth picking up. However, with just a sing-a-long version of the theme song and character bios, there's not enough here to earn a coveted DVD Pick of the Week rating.

Darling Lili - Buy from Amazon
One of the most infamous bombs of all time. The film started out with a $8 million budget, which then ballooned to about $25 million and in the end made just $5 million at the box office. And it's not hard to see why it failed. After all, it was a World War II Musical. However, it has earned a cult following who have been eagerly awaiting a home market release in any format. For most people, this DVD offers nothing outside a little camp appeal and that's not enough to rate it above the rental level. Even that's being generous.

Degrassi Junior High - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
This set contains all three seasons of Degrassi Junior High, which is just part of the long-running Canadian TV series following the kids on Degrassi street. Pricewise, it is like purchasing 2 seasons and getting the third for free, so it is only worth it if you don't own the season sets when they first came out.

Dominion - Prequel to the Exorcist - Buy from Amazon
When a prequel to The Exorcist was given the go ahead, no one could have expected that the intrigue behind the scenes would have been more entertaining then the final product. But at least both versions are now on DVD so fans of the series can compare the two. What you'll find is that while neither film is all that good, Dominion is miles better than Beginning. But even with extras that are better than expected, it still isn't worth picking up. It's not even worth the rental unless curiosity gets the better of you.

The Doris Day Show - Season 2 - Buy from Amazon
Rarely does a show change so much from season one to season two. With this show, season 2 is practically a whole different series compared to season 1, but since the ratings shot up as a result there were very few complaints. Special features are strong for a show this old, and that makes it worth picking up for fans of the series, but it is too outdated to earn many new recruits.

Dragons - Metal Ages - Buy from Amazon
The second movie based on the popular toys, Mega Bloks Dragons. Special features include a short film, storyboard comparisons and a DVD-Rom game, which should be enough to entertain those that enjoyed the first movie.

Effects - Buy from Amazon
Effects has a very interesting premise. Members of a film crew start to suspect that the Horror film they are working on is in fact a cover for a snuff film. This film was shot back in 1979, but outside a few film festival appearances, it has never been shown publicly. No theatrical release, no TV showings, no home market release. But the film is finally coming out on DVD, and it's not being dumped on a featureless disc either. There's the usual audio commentary as well as an hour long retrospective, two short films and image galleries. Those interested in low-budget / independent horror films should check this one out. Heck, I'm tempted to pick it up just to encourage studios to release other, 'lost' films.

Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A super-rich couple travel the world and solve crimes in their spare time. This show was glitzy and glamorous, but had all the depth of a kiddy-pool. (That's not surprising since it was produced by Aaron Spelling.) The 3-disc set as all 23 first season episodes, audio commentary on the pilot, and a retrospective.

Herbie: Fully Loaded - Buy from Amazon
Of the three wide releases coming out on DVD this week, Herbie: Fully Loaded earned the best reviews. It also only earned 41% positive rating on the Tomatometer, which explains why the DVD pick of the week went to a TV on DVD release. The DVD release is OK, with audio commentary, deleted scenes, a few featurettes and a music video, which lifts the DVD to the rental level, but not beyond.

Horatio Hornblower Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Eight TV movies based on the books by C.S. Forester that originally aired on A&E. These films developed quite a following and the 8-disc set has quite a few special features including commentary on 2 movies, 3 featurettes, nautical terms, and more. A good set for the fans and a great price.

House of Wax - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of many, many remakes that have come out in the past few years, and like so many of them, this one went over poorly with the critics and did little better with moviegoers. (Personally I blame Paris Hilton.) Special features are okay for a first run release with video commentary, behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the making of the House of Wax, and more. It lifts it up to the rental level, but not beyond. Can also be purchased with the original as part of a package deal.

Kids in the Hall - Complete Season 3 - Buy from Amazon
It's the halfway point of this amazing Canadian sketchcom series. Many consider this the best season as they were used to the TV format, but went back to the more daring comedy that was their trademark, while there was less of the in-fighting that started to affect the show later on. Special features, on the other hand, seem to be slightly weaker than previous releases. Regardless, the set is still worth picking up and is in fact one of the DVD Picks of the Week.

In Living Color - Season 4 - Buy from Amazon
Great show, mediocre DVD release. It's another case where music replacement hurts the show and in this case there was simply too much music that needed replacing. And it's not just the amount, but the importance; when you do a parody of a music video you can't simply replace the music with some generic song. You have to lose the whole skit. I still think 100% of the blame should be directed to the record companies, but hopefully the creative forces at work will get DVD rights for the songs they use from now on.

The L Word - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Like season one, season two maintained that tight balance I mentioned previously. Also like the first season, this DVD release has more than enough special features to make it worth picking up for fans of the series.

Last Days - Buy from Amazon
Gus Van Sant has done some really good movies like Good Will Hunting, he's also done some movies that were obviously meant to show off his directing skills and impress the critics. Gerry is a perfect example; that was a movie that took being dull and made it an art-form, but for some reason plenty of critics gave it positive reviews. Last Days is another such movie. As a filmmaking exercise it might be good, but as a movie it misses the mark. Special features are on par with most limited releases, but the overall value of the DVD doesn't even reach the rental level.

Little House on the Prairie - The Complete Season 9 - Buy from Amazon
The ninth, and final, season hits the home market. This season was called Little House: A New Beginning when it aired and the show shifted focus from the Ingalls to other characters, but those who have been faithfully purchasing the season sets should have no reason not to pick this one up.

Looney Tunes - Golden Collection - Volume Three - Buy from Amazon
Easily the DVD Pick of the Week. In fact, I'm making it my DVD Pick of the Year. This 4-disc set includes an incredible selection of cartoons including my personal favorite, Hillbilly Hare. You might remember Hillbilly Hare for the absolutely hysterical square dancing routine Bugs leads the Martin brothers through, but you might not remember the cartoon because it's been banned from American TVs for years. It can be shown in Canada, but my favorite line is edited out, "Grab a fencepost hold it tight, whomp your partner with all your might; hit him in the shin, hit him in the head, hit him again, the critter ain't dead." I still fail to see why anyone could object to the lyrical content of the song. I would buy this 4-disc set even if the only cartoon on the whole thing was Hillbilly Hare. I would buy it even if the picture was bad and the sound was scratchy, and I would pay twice the asking price as well, that's how much I love that cartoon. Moving on, for those of you who are not crazy, the set is still worth picking up with 60 more cartoons broken down into 4 categories: Bugs Bunny, Hollywood Caricatures and Parodies, Porky and the Pigs, and All Stars Cartoon Party. More than half of the cartoons have audio commentary tracks, and other bonuses include rare wartime shorts, early Warner Bros. shorts, and a handful of featurettes. This set should be in everyone's DVD collection. Can also be purchased with the first two volumes as part of a package deal.

Looney Tunes - Movie Collection - Buy from Amazon
This set contains two movies, (Bugs Bunny/Road-Runner Movie and 1001 Rabbit Tales) which are actually compilations of several cartoons shorts stitched together to form feature-length films. The result isn't nearly as bad as it could have been, but I still prefer watching the cartoons separately as they were intended. Also, since it is very likely that all the cartoons used will be released (as many already are) on the Golden Collections, then it's better to stick with the Golden Collections as they come out. On the other hand, if you are a completist, then this is a pretty good deal.

MADtv - The Best of Seasons 8, 9 & 10 - Buy from Amazon
I love MADtv. The first season set was really funny and I was looking forward to season two, which was promised on that set. However, I guess sales were not as strong as they expected as the studio switched from Full Season Sets to Best Of releases. Long time readers know what I think of best of sets, and it be no surprise that this I recommend skipping this disc.

Melinda and Melinda - Buy from Amazon
I had high hopes for this film as the early buzz suggested Woody Allen had returned to for with this film. However, reviews were mediocre and its box office was no better. That's too bad since the film deserved better, which makes the fact that the film is being released on a featureless DVD even harder to take. Even so, it is still worth a rental and the more enthusiastic Woody Allen fans outs there will want to pick it up.

The Munsters - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
The film was an instant hit and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. However, it also quickly fell out of favor with the public and lasted only 2 seasons. (Although several TV movies and a new series were later made. And that's not mentioning the movie coming out.) This set also has more special features than season one, so if you enjoyed that set, there's no reason not to get this one.

Mysterious Skin - Buy from Amazon
The film takes an incredibly difficult subject matter, but approaches it with such conviction and skill that it turns what could have been a unbearable 100 minute experience into power and worthwhile film. Even so, it is still difficult to watch and it is best rented first as most people will have trouble sitting through it the first time. Those that do buy it will enjoy the special features like an audio commentary track, and a reading of the book it is based on.

Noel - Buy from Amazon
The film was released this time last year on FlexPlay, one of several self-destructing DVD formats that have been released over the years, and hopefully the last such format studios will attempt. As for the movie itself, it is a waste of a good cast on a dreary Christmas tale.

Point Pleasant - The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon
A show cancelled so fast it was off the air before I even heard of it. For fans of the show, tomorrow will be bittersweet as it reminds them that the show ended far too early. At least they will get all 13 episodes made, including 5 that were never aired. The only special feature on the 3-disc set is a making of featurette, but that's understandable since the show was so short-lived.

Puppets Who Kill: Complete 2nd Season - Buy from Amazon
A show that makes you think there's something wrong with the water up here in Canada. The show combines equal parts funny and demented to create the best Puppets Behaving Badly show on the planet. (Okay, there's probably not a lot of competition in that genre.) On a serious note, this season the show was nominated for five Geminis (the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy), and won one of them. It's worth picking up, but it's a little too warped to get a DVD Pick of the Week.

Rize - Buy from Amazon
The film earned incredible reviews and had an ambitious release schedule. Perhaps too ambitious. It started out well enough, but have no where to go and quickly shed theatres. The DVD release should perform much better as it is packed with special features, especially compared to most limited releases. There's the ever present audio commentary, deleted and extended scenes, interviews, instructions on some of the dance steps, and more. If you've never seen this kind of dancing before you have to rent the movie, and chances are, if you rent the movie you will want to buy it.

Sex and the Teenage Mind - Buy from Amazon
Almost entirely unnoteworthy and I probably won't have mentioned it if I didn't see Danica McKellar in the cast list. You'd probably best remember her as Winnie from The Wonder Years, but she's a good actress and will hopefully get more roles in the future.

Single White Female 2 - The Psycho - Buy from Amazon
Why?

Tales From the Crypt - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Horror anthology shows can be really fun when well done and while this series isn't the best such show ever, what it lacks in real scares it makes up for with comedy. Season Two is a much better deal than Season One with three times the episodes for about 50% more money. Special features are about the same, with an introduction by the Crypt Keeper and a documentary.

Tripping the Rift - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
A combination of Science Fiction, CGI and Sex. Guess which aspect is emphasized the most in the promotional material? The show has some real potential, but so far it has only come close on the rare occasion. Add in a 3-disc set that is mostly devoid of special features and you have a set that is best skipped. Maybe if the show improves, the later seasons will be worth picking up.

Titanic - Special Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
I fully admit I've never seen this movie, which makes it really difficult to comment on it. It did get great reviews and did win a bunch of Oscars, not to mention setting plenty of box office records. However, ask people today what they think about the movie and the term, "Overrated" comes up a lot. The Special Collector's Edition is a huge step up from the previous release, but not enough to make me break my streak of 2,866 Titanic-free days.

Tom and Jerry - Spotlight Collection - Volume 2 - Buy from Amazon
A lot of people are very upset with this set, and the previous release, because some of the cartoons were edited to be more P.C.. Granted, the voice work in some of the cartoons is very racist by today's standard, but they should have included both soundtracks at let the viewer choose as some people would like to have the original cartoons for a historical record. Special features on the set include several audio commentary tracks, a few featurettes, and more.

Travellers & Magicians - Buy from Amazon
The first film shot entirely in Bhutan and also the first film shot in Dzongkha, the Bhutan language. The film looks amazing and while the pace might be a little slow for some people, those that like movies with an easy pace should enjoy it. And with plenty of special features for a limited release, fans will probably prefer picking it up.

Wizard of Oz - Buy from Amazon: Two-Disc Special Edition or Three-Disc Collector's Edition
The movie is widely regarded as a classic and probably should be in everyone's DVD collection. The real question is which version to get. Two-Disc Special Edition includes an audio commentary track, making of documentaries, retrospectives, tributes, and more. The Three-Disc Collector's Edition includes all of those plus a look at author L. Frank Baum and several earlier versions of the movie and others based on his Oz series of books. It boils down to twice as many special features for twice as much money, so it's a coin toss for most people. I, on the other hand, am always willing to spend more to get more so the Three-Disc Collector's Edition holds more appeal.

WW II 60th Anniversary Collection - Buy from Amazon: Volume One and Volume Two
The first set has Das Boot, Anzio, Caine Mutiny, and Dead Men's Secrets. Volume Two has The Guns of Navarone, From Here to Eternity, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. The price it quite a bargain, but there are several versions of some of the movies, and not even the studio's official site says which versions are in the set.

Zombi - Dawn of the Dead - Buy from Amazon
This is George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead re-edited by Italian filmmaker, Dario Argento. It removes much of the humor and makes the film a lot more action oriented, and almost everyone agrees this made the film much worse. And since this version has already been released as part of the Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition, there's little reason to pick up this disc as well.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Bewitched, House of Wax, Melinda and Melinda, Rize, Mysterious Skin, Travellers and Magicians, Last Days, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist