The new releases in home video this week are definitely a sign that we’re approaching the Fall season rather quickly. Most of the notable selections sit squarely within the horror or thriller genre, and the picks we highlight this week reflect that. Aside from the two brand new DVDs dropping this week (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Next Day Air), we’ve also got a couple of compilations featuring selections from two horror masters (John Carpenter: Master of Fear Collection and a Wes Craven Collection), a couple of quirky genre-benders (Army of Darkness: Screwhead Edition and King Kong vs. Godzilla), and an anthology dedicated to one legendary movie villain (The Hannibal Lecter Collection). It’s apparent everyone is already in preparation mode for Halloween, but we’ve also thrown in a couple of alternate choices for everyone else, so have a look!
Some of you may already “own” the pre-special effects version of Wolverine that made the rounds shortly before the movie opened earlier this year, and based on the film’s reception, some of you may have already deleted it from your hard drives. Though this companion piece to the highly successful X-Men franchise was greatly anticipated, expectations dropped when an unfinished version of the film was leaked onto the internet. Unfortunately, the finished product didn’t do much to remove any doubts fans may have had, earning a mere 36% on the Tomatometer. Nevertheless, die hard fans and the curious ones who missed it the first time around will want to check it out on DVD and Blu-Ray when it drops this week.
A tale of bumbling criminals whose scheming goes very wrong, Next Day Air was hardly deemed a special delivery by critics, who said it was an uneven blend of action and stoner movie tropes. Still, some praised its talented cast (which includes Donald Faison, Mos Def, and Mike Epps) and moments of panache. The DVD features outtakes and audio commentary.
Though most moviegoers remember the menacing slurp of Anthony Hopkins’ tongue as he reminisced about devouring a victim with “some fava beans and a nice chianti,” it was Brian Cox who originated the role of Hannibal Lecter in 1986’s Manhunter. This week, the first three installments of the popular thriller franchise become available together in Blu-Ray as the Hannibal Lecter Collection. You’ll find 1986’s Manhunter, 1991’s multiple Academy Award-winning Silence of the Lambs, and 2001’s Hannibal in one convenient package; unfortunately, if you’re more of a fan of the later installments, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.
Sam Raimi’s beloved third installment of the Evil Dead series, wherein Bruce Campbell’s Ash is transported back in time to do battle with medieval zombies, releases a brand new DVD this week. The Screwhead Edition features a digitally remastered print of the film, a previously released alternate ending, and a new featurette dedicated to the creation of the special effects used in the movie. This is a great opportunity for fans of the cult classic who missed out on previous special releases, and it’s available both on DVD and Blu-Ray.
John Carpenter was one of the masters of genre filmmaking in the 1970s and 1980s. He crafted the template for the slasher movie with Halloween, and then went on to make some of the wittiest, spookiest horror flicks of the Regan era. Included on the John Carpenter: Master of Fear Collection DVD box set are The Thing, Prince of Darkness, They Live, and Village of the Damned, which are by turns spooky, darkly funny, and smarter than your average frightfest.
Adam Shankman’s 2007 reimagining of the 1988 John Waters film of the same name was a rousing success, both with audiences and with critics. The musical was energetic, heartfelt, and fun, and critics rewarded it with a 91% Tomatometer and Certified Fresh status. To the delight of its fans, a new Deluxe Edition drops this week, featuring two commentary tracks and new featurettes like Inside the Recording Booth and Transforming Travolta to Turnblad, among others. With all the studios beefing up their horror catalogues in preparation for the Halloween season, this is a nice alternative for those looking for something a little more upbeat.
An American Werewolf in London may not stand as the finest horror flick the 1980s has to offer, but it does have quite a bit going for it. Its special effects and makeup (the later crafted by Rick Baker, who won an Oscar for his efforts) were ahead of their time, and Werewolf injected a fresh strain of dark comedy into the monster-movie subgenre. The Available in DVD and Blu-Ray, the hi-def version features a digital remaster of the movie, as well as a feature-length making-of documentary.
Seriously, why do people keep messing with King Kong? Furthermore, why not let Godzilla stay dormant on the bottom of the ocean? In King Kong Vs. Godzilla, the great gorilla goes, ahem, ape after a pharmaceutical company tries to kidnap him for an advertisement, and a submarine crew mistakenly awakens the deadly lizard. Naturally, the result is an epic (albeit cheesy-looking) battle with plenty of property destruction and the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
For those unfamiliar with this horror legend, Wes Craven is the mind behind such genre classics as The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and here in one set are three of his films from the late 80s-early 90s. Though considered some of his minor works, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker, and The People Under the Stairs mark a recognizable period of Craven’s career and will probably appeal most to his built-in fanbase and those who are looking for a few good scares leading up to Halloween.
After Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon introduced Hollywood to the artful martial arts film in 2000, audiences everywhere hungered for more of the same. Enter Hero, starring Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi , an expansive, epic story set in ancient China about an assassination plot on a governing warlord. With huge, colorful set pieces and intricate fight choreography, director Zhang Yimou utilizes a conflicting flashback method to bring the story to life. Critics praised the film, awarding it Certified Fresh status at 95% on the Tomatometer, and largely pointed to its visual splendor as one of its core strengths. Pick it up in Blu-Ray this week to see the film unfold again in the high definition treatment it deserves.