The Blu-ray Crypt – Sept. 17

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World War Z blu art

World War Z

Paramount released Star Trek Into Darkness in a variety of retailer exclusive editions last week and this week they have done the same with World War Z. Best Buy has exclusive packaging and content (not sure what specific content is special about their release though). Walmart has an exclusive 1-hour worth of bonus content that is available to watch on Vudu that features a discussion of the rise of zombie popularity featuring Max Brooks, George Romero and Steven Schlozman. Target has the movie with an exclusive 48-page art book. The movie is also released in normal 2D and 3D versions, all of which feature an unrated cut of the film as well as the theatrical cut.

I actually enjoyed World War Z, not so much as a zombie movie, but in terms of a big Hollywood blockbuster, it was entertaining for the most part. It certainly wasn’t nearly as bad as expectations may have pointed to considering the troubled production and extensive reshoots. It sounds like the 2D presentation of the movie is the way to go on Blu-ray as I’ve read the 3D version is passable, but not exactly note-worthy.

Day of the Dead blu art

Day of the Dead

Scream Factory releases George A. Romero’s classic Day of the Dead to counteract the (arguably) zombie deficient World War Z. While my favorite of Romero’s zombie movies is Dawn of the Dead, Day is still an excellent entry and I’m super excited about Scream Factory releasing a collector’s edition of the movie. First of all, just look at that beautiful new artwork on the disc. That alone would entice me to double dip on this movie (Anchor Bay previously released this movie on Blu-ray) but on top of that, Scream Factory has created an all-new feature length documentary, World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead, that is full of interviews and archival footage surrounding this movie, as well as Romero’s other films, that is worth the purchase price of this disc alone. On top of the new documentary, there are two commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes footage from special make-up effects creator Tom Savini’s own archives, a new featurette looking at the mines from the movie and, last but not least, an all-new high-definition transfer made for this release. The only two words that come to mind when I think of this new release is “must buy.”

Dracula_BR_OC.indd

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Millenium Films releases this Hammer horror classic in a brand-new collector’s edition. The Blu-ray comes with a set of five collectible cards in a white envelope with the movie’s logo on the front. The disc itself features a very striking transfer for a movie that hasn’t really ever received preferential video treatment. The colors are often very vibrant and the sharpness and detail is all quite good given the source material.  This is the best the movie has ever looked and fans will undoubtedly be pleased with the results.

This collector’s edition features a variety of bonus features. The first is a cast commentary that features Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Suzan Farmer and Francis Matthews all talking about their experiences on the film. It’s really interesting to hear them recount their memories from the film and give some insight into the movie. The disc features a World of Hammer episode titled, Hammer Stars: Christopher Lee, which is kind of light in content but still kind of cool to see the various roles that Lee had in his Hammer career. The real gem of the special features, other than the commentary, is the brand-new documentary, Back to Black. This new piece features interviews that provide insight into the film and its production as well as its restoration. It’s a really interesting look back at the film and is a most welcome feature to compliment this great release. The special features are rounded out with a restoration comparison, a restored original trailer and a gallery of stills. For fans of Hammer films, Millennium’s new release of Dracula: Prince of Darkness is highly recommended.

The East blu art

The East

An undercover investigator’s moral compass begins to change when she infiltrates an anarchist group responsible for targeting major corporations. When the CEOs of high profile companies find themselves the victims of a number of covert attacks, former FBI agent Sarah Moss is recruited by private intelligence firm Hiller Brood to gather information on ‘The East’, a shadowy eco-activist collective thought to be responsible. After finally managing to infiltrate the group, however, Sarah discovers her allegiances beginning to shift, as she increasingly begins to question the moral uncertainties of her life and finds herself falling under the spell of the group’s charismatic leader.

I missed this while it was in the theaters but I’m really curious to check this out since it comes from the same team who brought us Sound of My Voice, which was co-written by star Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij. That film was one of my favorites of 2011 and I’m excited to see something new from that writing team. I’ve unfortunately heard that The East doesn’t rise up to the same level of quality that Sound of Voice had but I’m still intrigued to see the movie and I want to judge it for myself. I liked Marling’s Another Earth, so I’m hoping that since she’s involved with The East, the film will still be an interesting watch.

The Bling Ring blu art

The Bling Ring

The latest film from indie filmmaker Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides) is about a group of teenagers obsessed with fashion and fame that vicariously live the lifestyle by burglarizing the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles and using their belongings as their own. I really liked Coppola’s Lost in Translation but haven’t seen any of her other filmography. I know her films have their fair share of fans and detractors but I’d like to see some more of her work and The Bling Ring looks kind of interesting. I’ll have to add this to my list of movies to rent.

Bates Motel S1 blu art

Bates Motel: Season One

A&E’s prequel series to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho is at times hit or miss. The strongest part of the show lies in the (very) twisted relationship between Norma and Norman Bates. Vera Farmiga does a fantastic job playing an overly-loving and unhinged mother and is definitely the anchor of the show. I like the series for its look into the mother-son relationship that made Norman Bates the psycho everyone is familiar with. However, some of the B-stories in the series feel a little like filler or padding that makes the show feel like its going off on unnecessary tangents and not progressing as fast as I’d want. That being said, the through line of the Bates family is what draws me to the show and I’m really hoping that season two amplifies that and provides some more dark and twisted family dynamics that leads to Norman’s inevitable fate.

Slacker blu art

Slacker (Criterion)

Directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Dazed and Confused), Slacker presents a day in the life of a loose-knit Austin, Texas, subculture populated by eccentric and overeducated young people. Shot on 16mm for a mere $3,000, writer-producer-director Linklater and his crew of friends threw out any idea of a traditional plot, choosing instead to create a tapestry of over a hundred characters, each as compelling as the last. The movie is a prescient look at an emerging generation of aggressive nonparticipants, and one of the key films of the American independent film movement of the 1990s.

Criterion’s release features a new, restored high-definition digital film transfer, supervised by director Richard Linklater and director of photo­graphy Lee Daniel. The release features an abundance of extras that includes three audio commentaries, Linklater’s first full-length feature film It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, a 1985 16mm short from Linklater and Daniel titled Woodshock, casting tapes, deleted scenes and alternate takes, footage from the Slacker tenth-anniversary reunion, home movies, a booklet featuring essays by author and filmmaker John Pierson and Michael Barker as well as reviews and production notes, stills gallery and more.

Arrow S1 blu art

Arrow: The Complete First Season

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his loved ones welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory.

I watched Smallville for about eight seasons before giving up from frustration with the quality of the show. It was always a love-hate relationship and I decided to end it and not look back. When the CW announced Arrow, I couldn’t help but think of this as being a similar show but only with a character I know less about and therefore have little interest in. I’ve heard some good things from a few people in regards to the show but I haven’t been able to sit down and give the show a chance. It’s not high on my priority list but maybe one day I’ll give it a few episodes to try to win me over.

More titles released today:

Grimm: Season Two

Behind the Candelabra

The Last Tycoon

Disconnect

Autumn Sonata (Criterion)

Scenic Route

Suddenly

Java Heat

Tremors Attack Pack

Halloween Home Haunts

Drift

Augustine

Riot

The Devil Bat

The Atomic City

Space Junk 3D

Galápagos 3D

by Ben McBride

Follow Ben on @monsterpopcorn

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