September 11, 2007

DVD Pick of the Week: From Beyond: Unrated Director's Cut

Last week's release slate was loaded to the gills with TV on DVD releases. It is September, after all. It's that time of year when we all get ready for the return of new television episodes of favorite series and debuting potential. This week is no different. It is not quite as stacked as last week was, but there are still plenty of season sets to dig into to prepare for the new season. There is something else making a presence this week. Since we are nearing the middle of September, it is time to start preparing for the Fall and Winter holiday schedule. We are at the dawn of the most expensive part of the year. What am I rambling on about? Well, it is time to get ready for Halloween. The studios know this, so this week we start getting a bunch of horror DVD releases. I know I like the sound of that, just check this week's pick.

In 1986 the HP Lovecraft tale From Beyond was brought to the big screen by director Stuart Gordon. On top of that it starred Jeffrey Combs who is always a fascinating screen presence. Unfortunately, I was a kid who was not into horror at the time nor was I a big movie guy. Can you believe a time ever existed? Anyway, it was released on VHS in 1989. I recall seeing it at some point in the mid 1990's when my movie jones, and more specifically my genre fandom began to kick in. Now I have very faint memories of it, but I remember liking in. Well, since the 1989 tape it has not seen the light of day. Now, finally we are getting a DVD release of the film. Not only that, it will be an unrated director's cut that is supposed to restore all of the cut footage from the MPAA trims.

The story concerns an experiment that is being conducted to stimulate the pineal gland in the brain to open the mind to higher dimensions. The experiment goes wrong when it opens a dimensional gateway that lets horrible creatures through that attack humanity. It is a gory film that contains some nicely graphic practical effects. This was before the dawning of the CG age. It was back when horror films relied on prosthetics, goo, and fake blood. It was a glorious age. Anyway, it has the aforementioned Jeffrey Combs in the lead role, plus Barbara Crampton who starred in a number of horror and sci-fi flicks through the 80's and early 90's, and Ken Foree who starred in Dawn of the Dead.

The DVD will be a widescreen presentation and include a number of extras: Commentary with Stuart Gordon and Cast, The Director's Perspective featurette, The Editing Room: Lost and Found featurette, Interview with the Composer, Photo Montage, Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Introduction. I can't wait!

Here's a clip to get you in the mood:

Also out this week:
  • Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Third Season. I lost interest early in the second season, but this series has plenty of fans. Now it's time to catch up before season four begins.
  • Charmed: The Final Season. Despite the presence of a trio of lovely women, I was never able to get into this series. Actually, I am surprised it lasted as long as it did (eight seasons).
  • Supernatural: The Complete Second Season. The second season wasn't quite as strong as the first, but it is still a nice twist on the X-Files type stories. It is building up and interesting internal mythology.
  • Bones: Season Two. I was glas to see this live past the first season (third is about to start). Unlike other CSI type shows, this hos more of a focus on the character chemistry than the cases.
  • Las Vegas: Season Four. Fun guilty pleasure show. Not one you watch for any deep entertainment. It does deliver the escapist goods in fine fashion.
  • Two and a Half Men: The Complete First Season. The popularity of this show escapes me. It is not terrible, but it is not all that special.
  • I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fourth Season. Ahhh, Barbara Eden.... What else need be said?
  • Fraggle Rock: Complete Third Season. Loved this as a kid, but I rewatched some episodes recently and they don't holdup that well.
  • Away From Her. Sarah Polley's directorial debut has received great critical acclaim, it arrives on DVD for, hopefully, a wider audience.
  • The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition. Would you believe I've never seen this? Sure you would. Now I will get to see it remastered. This comes with a CD with some Simon & Garfunkel songs.
  • The Film Crew: Wild Women of Wongo. The third release from The Film Crew, a group dedicated to giving commentaries to some of the worst films they can find.
  • Witchfinder General. A much requested Vincent Price film is finally here. I look forward to getting a chance to see this one. This also marks the return of the MGM Midnite Movies line. There are a number of double features coming out this week, keep an eye out for them!
  • The Fly Collection (The Fly / Return Of The Fly / The Curse Of The Fly). Plenty of Price to go around, at least the original is a classic, the others I cannot speak to. Yet.
  • Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection (The Abominable Dr. Phibes / Tales of Terror / Theater of Blood / Madhouse / Witchfinder General / Dr. Phibes Rises Again / Twice Told Tales). Even more from the macabre master. I may opt for this rather than Witchfinder alone. Can never have enough Price.
  • Scarecrows. An unknown 1988 film to me. The reviews seem to be rather positive for this. I may have to check it out...
  • DOA: Dead or Alive. Not a good movie, but still oddly entertaining. Based on the video game and directed by Corey Yuen.
  • The Return of the Living Dead: Collector's Edition. This is a classic from the 80's and helped reinvigorate the zombie genre. Looking forward to some new extras on this one.
  • Face/Off: Special Collector's Edition. This one kind of came in under the radar, at least to me. This is an excellent action flick from John Woo. It finally gets a special edition release.

So, what's on your slate?


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