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DVD Releases for October 4, 2005 - Part 1

October 3rd, 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. It's another week where no first run releases stand out as being must haves, but at least there are some special editions worth picking up, namely The Fly - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon. One last note, as I previously mentioned, I lost power this past week and that set me a day behind. Now normally it takes a couple of days to complete this list, so instead of being a day late with several columns I decided to make sure the rest of the columns were on time and split this one in half. So the first half the list will be published today, and the other half tomorrow.

Alien Apocalypse - Buy from Amazon
Bruce Campbell give a great performance in this predictable and otherwise terrible made for TV Alien Invasion movie. And unless you are a big fan of the man, it would be best if you skipped this DVD.

Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection - Buy from Amazon
Every year tens of thousands of DVDs are released / re-released, and of those it seems like 1,000 of them are Alfred Hitchcock collections. I can see why. After all, he is widely considered one of the greatest directors ever. This set contains some of his best work (Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds), but is also contains some of his less beloved films (Topaz, Torn Curtain, and Family Plot). These are all double-dips, but they have been remastered, including the first time release of anamorphic widescreen versions of Psycho and Vertigo. (For hardcore cinemaphiles, that alone is worth the upgrade.) If you don't have any Alfred Hitchcock is your collection, this is a great place to start, as the price just can't be beat. And after you pick up this set, grab the previously releases in the Signature Collection and you have almost all of his greatest films. (Wrong Men & Notorious Women - Criterion Collection would nearly complete that collection, but it appears to be out of print.)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season One - Buy from Amazon
The half-hour anthology series presented by Alfred Hitchcock hits the home market tomorrow. All 39 episodes are including as well as a all-new retrospective. That may not seem like a lot compared to most TV on DVD releases, but the series is 50 years old now, and that has to be taken into account. The price is amazing considering the runtime, but I would have preferred paying a bit extra to get 6 single-sided discs instead of 3 double-sided discs. Even so, this set is well worth picking up.

America's Funniest Home Videos - Home For The Holidays - Buy from Amazon
Watch people embarrass or even hurt themselves, but with a holiday theme! When alien anthropologists try to figure out why our civilization fell, this show will be a prime piece of evidence.

The Amityville Horror - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen, Pan & Scan, or UMD Mini
Based on a real life hoax. As regular readers are aware, one of my pet peeves is when studios market movies as if the were based on real life events. The people involved in this hoax admitted they made up the story before the original film was released. Yet some people still think the Amityville haunting was real. As for the movie itself, it was really bad but beat expectations at the box office. Special features are OK, but not really deserving of the Special Edition label. There's the ever-present audio commentary, deleted scenes (also with audio commentary), a making of featurette and a feature called Supernatural Homicide, which attempts to perpetuate the hoax. Lastly, there are On Set Peeks: an icon will pop up on screen during the movie and you click the button and you get to take a behind the scenes look at the sets during the movie. However, since I don't watch movies with the remote control in my hand, I dislike the way this feature is presented and would have preferred a simple featurette.

Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello - Volume 4 - Buy from Amazon
More expensive than the previously released collections, but just as worth picking up. Volume four contains three movies, one compilation, and two retrospectives on a 2-disc set. On a side note, there are a few movies with the classic comedy duo, but it seems unlikely that they will be released on DVD at this point.

Beg! - Buy from Amazon
At St. Caninus Hospital people are being drugged and have live dogs sown into their stomachs. I don't think anything more needs to be said, as you are either incredibly intrigued by the plot, or you are totally disgusted. Either way, nothing else I say will change your mind, but even if you are interested, I would rent the film first.

Billion Dollar Brain - Buy from Amazon
The Law of Declining Value hit this series hard. The Ipcress File is incredible, Funeral in Berlin falters, but is still enjoyable, while this film is barely passable (although it is not as bad as its reputation). The lack of special features on the disc reduce this DVD to the rental level, or below, unless you are a really big fan of the series.

The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Second Season - Buy from Amazon
Bob Newhart stars as psychologist Dr. Bob Hartley in this classic sitcom from the 70s. This 3-disc set is an improvement on Season 1, not only because the show improved but there are more special features with audio commentary tracks on 5 episodes and a making-of featurette. Easily worth picking up for anyone who enjoyed Season 1.

Cinderella - Buy from Amazon: Platinum Edition or Giftset
A classic princess cartoon from Disney. This 2-disc set includes a ton of special features including making of featurette, deleted scenes, unused songs, music videos and even an ESPN program on the greatest Cinderella stories in Sports, which is one of the most off-topic special features I've ever scene on a DVD. The Giftset has all of those features as well as 6 exclusive drawings and a book. Not really worth the extra $20 price tag.

Count Duckula - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
From the same people who brought you Dangermouse, this series is about a Vegetarian Vampire Duck who wants to become a star. While the show is clearly aimed at kids, the writing is sharp and witty that it will entertain adults as well. In fact, I would recommend the set more to adults for nostalgia reasons than I would recommend it for kids who have never seen the show. Special features include interviews and some exclusive artwork, which is not bad considering the age of the show. I would rate this as a must have, but the humor might be a little too British for most people.

Drawn Together - Season One - Buy from Amazon
A cartoon spoofing reality TV shows like The Real World, except all the characters are parodies of famous cartoons. You have your SpongeBob type character, you have Foxxy Love who is like Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats, etc. And while reality TV is ripe for spoofing, many times the show falls short and instead relies of gross-out humor. The DVD contains extended and unedited versions of all 8 episodes as well as special features like audio commentaries, deleted scenes, sing-a-longs, and Censored/uncensored game where you try and guess which lines were bleeped out and which were not.

The Fly - Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 classic is a rare specimen in the movie world, a remake that is better than the original. (It is also one of David Cronenberg's most accessible movies.) Special features on the 2-disc set include an audio commentary track, three making of featurettes (each on a different stage of production), deleted scenes, test footage, promotional material and more. A must have, easily a DVD Pick of the Week and a great example of the Creature Feature genre.

The Fly II - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
As much as the first film was amazing, this sequel was equally unnecessary. The only thing going for the film is gore. The 2-Disc set is amazing, on the other hand, with audio commentary, deleted scenes, alternate ending, two documentaries, and more. Easily worth picking up for fans of the film, but I just happen to not be one of those people.

The Fog - Special Edition - Buy from Amazon
What's the most important step in releasing a remake? Re-releasing the original on a Special Edition, or course. (I don't remember being this cynical before I started this job. [Ed: Me neither.]) The Fog is a cult classic, but this release is no different than the previous release.

House of D - Buy from Amazon
David Duchovny's first attempt at directing, but it was not a successful transition. The film just tries too hard to please, turning into a corny Coming Of Age story. The special features are great, especially for a limited release film, with an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, alternate ending, making of featurette, and more. But they are not enough to make up for the quality of the movie.

The Interpreter - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
Short description of the DVD: It's a solid rental.
A long description can be found in our review.

Into the West - Buy from Amazon
A 9-hour TV mini-series produced by Steven Spielberg. It cost $50 million to make and certainly has an epic feel to it, but the story seems uneven at times and some of the characters are underwritten or merely clichéd. Special features on the 4-disc set include interviews, deleted scenes, a making-of and more.

Jiminy Glick in La La Wood - Buy from Amazon
Based on a TV show and starring Martin Short as Jiminy Glick as an incompetent celebrity interviewer. (I saw him interview Tom Hanks and drove him so nuts that he actually walked out on the interview. This was before it was widely know that Jiminy Glick was Martin Short's alter ego.) But while the show is very funny, the movie isn't. It's like the countless Saturday Night Live skits that get turned into movies; they work on the small screen in small doses but not as movies. The special features are good for a limited release, with two audio commentary tracks and some deleted scenes, but don't push the DVD past the rental level, and that's only for diehard Jiminy Glick / Martin Short fans.

Kolchak - The Night Stalker - Buy from Amazon
With the TV series being remade, there's no better time to release the whole series on DVD. OK, maybe it would have been better to release it before the series debuted, but tomorrow's a pretty good release date as well. Unfortunately, the 3-disc set is devoid of special features, limiting its value and making it worth picking up only for the more hardcore fans.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane - Buy from Amazon
Jodie Foster stars as Rynn, a 13-year old girl who is all alone and will stop at nothing to stay that way as she has to deal with a nosy schoolteacher, social worker, and even a child molester. It's an excellent film and Jodie Foster really shines, but without any special features the DVD doesn't rate better than a rental for most people.

Mail Order Wife - Buy from Amazon
A documentary about Adrian, a less than appealing man who gives up on dating and decides to get a mail order wife. Andrew is a documentarian who agrees to pay for the bride in exchange for the rights to film his new life, but when the director become emotionally involved in the marriage things get complicated. The film is more entertaining than the reviews would otherwise indicate, and with an audio commentary track and deleted scenes its worth a rental.

Man With the Screaming Brain - Buy from Amazon
Another B-Movie starring Bruce Campbell, this time as a man who had half his brain replaced with that of a Bulgarian con man.... Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me either. There are some issues with the video transfer, but the special features are well done with an audio commentary track and two featurettes. However, the DVD is more for the curious that those looking for a good movie.

My Summer of Love - Buy from Amazon
The best reviewed recent release on this week's list. A coming of age story with a lesbian twist, the film did well for a limited release, hitting $1 million, but deserves to do much better on the home market. The DVD release does have more special features than many limited releases with an audio commentary track and info on the music.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Interpreter, The Amityville Horror, My Summer of Love, House of D, Mail Order Wife, Jiminy Glick in La La Wood