October 28, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: The Beyond

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

The Beyond. It may not be the best title among this weeks list, but how can you have a non-horror pick during the week of Halloween? Then I came across this new release of The Beyond from Grindhouse Releasing and my pick almost chose itself. It has been some time since I have seen it, but I am hankering for some old school gore, and Italian director Lucio Fulci is good at delivering that. His horror films tend to be slowly paced and punctuated with horrific gore scenes, including at least one scene of eye violence. This one does have the issue of having a New Orleans basement as a plot point (as we all know New Orleans homes have no basements). That basement has a doorway to Hell, once opened you may want to run like hell. This new release includes all of the graphic crucifixions, deadly tarantula attacks, acid baths, eyeball impalements, throat-shredding demon dogs and hordes of flesh-eating zombies that you could want in a brand new transfer with a plethora of extras. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Tinker Bell. Disney has a brand new computer animated adventure for Peter Pan's fairy friend. All I have seen from this is the commercial and I am sure he kids will love it, but it really doesn't look up to snuff. I guess I should not expect too much. Of course, I am not in the target audience anyway. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Journey to the Center of the Earth. This was kind of fun. Seeing it in 3D on the big screen was like getting on a roller coaster at an amusement park, fun, fast, and over before you know it allowing you to get onto something else. This is not a disk to own, but it would make a fun rental for the family. Although, I would stick to the flat version as opposed to the anaglyph 3D that is on this disk. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Another release that I am not in the target audience, but I saw this on the big screen and thought it was quite enjoyable. It was better than I expected. A touching story, plenty of real world relevance, and good performances all around raise this above the ordinary. It comes from the old school of film making, delivering a pure, good-hearted experience. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition. A new collection of cheesy movies with some live commentary. I have not seen nearly as many of these as I want to, but the ones I have seen have always been quite entertaining. The films on this 4-disk set are First Spaceship on Venus (1960), Laserblast (1978), Werewolf (1996), and Future War (1997). The limited edition set comes in a tin with a figure of Crow T. Robot. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection. Who doesn't love these guys? Their adventures, pranks, and jokes are timeless. This set collects all of the episodes in one set. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. You either like Troma or you don't, unless you are me, I have not seen enough to make up my mind. This does look like one to see. Lloyd Kaufman directed this horrific bloodbath of chicken horror and is now releasing it in a limited 3-disk release. Get it while it lasts. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

The Flinstones: The Complete Series. Without The Flintstones we may not have gotten The Simpsons. This was the first primetime cartoon and was a big hit when it originally aired and has remained popular over the years, even inspiring a couple of live action films. This box brings the whole run together under one roof. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Dead Space: Downfall. EA is really promoting the heck out of their new game, Dead Space. There have been animated comics, commercials, ad space, and this feature length animated film. Whether any of it is any good is yet to be seen, but I am intrigued by this animated horror film. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection. Possibly my favorite old school comedy duo, these guys made some funny films. This 15-disk set includes 28 films, including the Meet the X series in the 1950's. If you want to laugh for hours on end, here is the set. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Zombie Strippers. The title says it all, doesn't it? Add in the names Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson and you are on your way to a cheesy good time, maybe. I have not seen it yet but cannot imagine it being anything but fun. Of course I have been wrong from time to time. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Hell Ride. After working on Grindhouse, it seems Quentin Tarantino wants to bring more to the screen, this is one of them. I would like to see it, although it has not reviewed all too well. The story deals with the characters Pistolero, the Gent and Comanche and the deadly, unfinished business among them. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Pieces. As a companion to the release of The Beyond, Grindhouse Releasing is also putting out a new, authorized, and uncut DVD of Pieces. This movie tells the story of a chainsaw killer who collects body parts from his victims to create a grisly human jigsaw puzzle. Sounds like fun, no? This is a 2-disk set with a brand new transfer and an entire host of extras. This is one I need to see. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

The 4400: The Complete Series. I really liked this series and was sad to learn that it had been cancelled. It ran for four seasons, so there are plenty of episodes to go back and relive. All of them have been collected in this all encompassing box set. This was Heroes before there was a Heroes. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

The Polar Express: 3D. I am going to have to recommend against this release, it is the red/blue cardboard glasses style 3D that will quickly give you a headache, not the polarized version that was in theaters. Stick to the original release. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Mushroomhead: Vol. 2. Like Mushroomhead? If yes, you will want to check this out. It is not quite the MRH DVD I would like, but it will do until that one comes around, maybe. This disk comprises all sorts of tour videos along with some videos and live cuts. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Paradise Lost: Collector's Edition. This is a new DVD of the Paradise Lost documentary and its sequel about the West Memphis Three, the three teenagers accused of horrific murders in 1993. Sketchy police work, coerced confessions, and "evidence" that brings music into the case are among the topics covered. I have been wanting to see this for some time, now looks like a good chance. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Shiver. Spanish horror film that has received some positive buzz arrives just in time for Halloween. It is about a bullied teen with an allergy to sunlight and a hungry evil that thirsts for blood. Looking forward to checking this out. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)

Syngenor. Even if the movie turns out bad, which I think it will, the cover looks pretty cool (the better to trap you with). The title stands for SYNthetic GENetic ORganism, created by scientists for use in the Middle East (the first time) who turn on their creators. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)


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