Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

Before I get into the DVDs today, a quick plug for three cool screenings happening today at the Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon.

First, at noon, comes a free screening of two music docos "Jimi Hendrix plays Monterey" and "Shake! Otis At Monterey." Jimi and Otis - what better way could you find to spend your lunch hour (or two)? And it's free to boot.

Later in the day, the Douglass is offering two screenings, at 5:30 and 7:30 of Al Gore's thoroughly terrifying "An Inconvenient Truth." Though the movie is essentially one lecture by Mr. Gore about global warming, it's actually quite entertaining, and Mr. Gore shows more charm and humor than I thought he was capable of. This is the first time's it played in Macon, and it's only $5, so definitely check it out.

As far as DVDs, there's other stuff being released today, but I'm gonna stick with the horror stuff, which is all fairly great.

"Frankenstein" and "Dracula"

Where better to start then with a double feature of two really creepy creatures? These movies, and the stories they sprang from, started with one key premise that modern horror flicks seem to have forgotten: The monster should be as interesting as it is menacing.

James Whale's "Frankenstein" set the bar higher than any of its successors thanks to two magnificent performances from Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein. Supplements include two commentaries, one with Rudy Behlmer and one with historian Sir Christopher Frayling; "Karloff: The Gentle Monster" featurette; "The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster" featurette; Feature-length documentary about Universal Horror; "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia; "Frankenstein Archives" poster and still galleries.

Bela Lugosi got to use more style to play Bram Stoker's "Dracula" later in 1931 (note, that's "Dracula," not "Bram Stoker's Dracula" - big difference.) The coolest thing about this 75th anniversary edition is the option to watch the film accompanied by Philip Glass' music, performed by the Kronos Quartet. There's also "Dracula: Spanish Version" (1931), which was shot at night on the same sets as the Lugosi classic by George Melford. Other supplements include commentaries by film historian David J. Skal and by Steve Haberman, screenwriter of "Dracula: Dead and Loving It"; "Lugosi: The Dark Prince" featurette; "The Road to Dracula" featurette; "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia; an introdution to the Spanish Version by Lupita Tovar Kohner; the Universal Horror documentary and a poster montage.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street"

One worthy heir to these great creepers was Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger, and this week the original "Nightmare" gets a new special edition from Infinifilm (the ladies may remember this one also featured a certain young man named Depp.) Though he later became a cartoonish character, Englund's Krueger, a child killer who returns from the dead to torment teens in their dreams, is thoroughly terrifying in this first flick. Supplements include a commentary by director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and director of photography Jacques Haitkin; Alternate ending(s); and three featurettes, "Never Sleep Again: The Making of A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror" and "Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven's Nightmares."

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper's 1974 slasher, with its masked boogeyman modeled on Ed Gein, has more in common with today's gore-first approach to horror, but it still stands up over time. With a new version hitting theaters soon, this two disc set was inevitable, and it's loaded with intriguing extras. They include two commentaries, one by actors Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger, and art designer Robert A. Burns, and one by director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl and actor Gunnar Hansen; two documentaries, the 73-minutes "Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth" and the 74-minute "Flesh Wounds"; a tour of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house before and after remodeling, conducted by Gunnar Hansen; deleted scenes and outtakes; a blooper reel; outtakes from "The Shocking Truth" and still galleries.

"The Dead Zone - Special Collector's Edition"

Both director David Cronenberg and star Christopher Walken were surprisingly subdued for this 1983 Stephen King adaptation. Walken plays a schoolteacher who wakes from a five-year coma with a gift for second sight that comes in battering shocks. At the risk of offending all partisans of "The Shawshank Redemption," which also has its charms, this one remains my favorite King adaptation, and it was tailormade for Cronenberg's style. Supplements include four featurettes, "Memories From The Dead Zone," "The Look of The Dead Zone," "Visions and Horror From The Dead Zone" and "The Politics of The Dead Zone."

"Gilmore Girls" returns tonight

I awoke this morning to the distressing news that AICN's Hercules, who has been a strong supporter of "Gilmore Girls" from the beginning, says the new season premiere sorely misses show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who left at the end of last season. His exact words: "like 'West Wing' without Sorkin." Ouch. I'll still tune in tonight for the seventh season premiere on the CW at 8, of course, and I encourage any fans of witty dialogue and colorful characters to do the same. Peace out.


Carrie Lofty said...

Who is this Depp you speak of?

Anyway, I have never been able to watch ANY of those horror movies because I am a wuss who married an even bigger wuss. The best we ever did was watch Sixth Sense & Blair Witch in the theater in the same summer. Bravery!

Oh, and I may be the only person who really liked Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein from, what, 1995? I know, I know... sometimes my taste drives into a ditch.

Reel Fanatic said...

I didn't hate Branagh's Frankenstein as much as many people I know, Salome .. it was a good effort, but just fell a little short

sanchapanzo said...

Never been a fan of horror movies. I would be glad to see a movie which does not show the gory-sights that one gets to see in horror movies, instead they can try their best to hide the horror part and build a good suspense with the horror-part and never show it on-screen.
Shyamalan's "Signs" was good, until the part when he decided to show the aliens on screen :-(
Guess, the same is true for Peter Jackson's "King Kong". It was so spectacular seeing Jack Black with his crazy antics building an extra-ordinary suspense about the island. Until the director a bit foolishly decides to show KingKong in skin :-(
Neither "Signs" or "KingKong" are horror movies, but I guess both could have been a super-movies had they persisted with the suspense part all-the-way.

I kind of liked "Ring"(Ring I), thanks to the rather different presentation. Guess, horror movies generally are too cliched and extremely monotonous.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on suspense being more important than gore, Sanchapanzo, and that is something the recent spate of flicks (Hostel, Saw) seem to have forgotten

Anonymous said...

It truly is a week for horror fans. I can't wait to get my hands on Dracula. I've never actually seen the Spanish version which should prove to be interesting!

Unknown said...

You must be psychic as my own copies (UK) of Frankenstein and Dracula (English version) arrived just this last week. I'm slowly working my way through Jurgen Muller's just published "Best Movies of the 30's" (he started with the 90's and has been moving bacwards - highly recommended series from Taschen books) and both those movies featured. I just need to find the time to watch them.

Over here in old blighty "Gilmore Girls" isn't broadcast so I've had to catch the series on DVD. They've only just released Season 3 and I have a horrid feeling this is going to go the way of Frasier which stopped after just four seasons over here. Fingers crossed that I'm wrong (and that the seventh series improves without its original writer).

Reel Fanatic said...

I didn't realize there was such a gap when shows have to cross the pond, Ian ... seasons three and four, in my opinion, were the best, so you're seeing the show at just the right point so far

Lori said...

I don't think I'll be buying any of those as over the years I've become more of a wuss with regard to horror flicks. But it's nice to see Elm Street getting the infinifilm treatment. That one's definitely the keeper out of the bunch...although I have to say Freddy vs. Jason was actually pretty dang funny...on purpose.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to confess that I agree with you about Freddie V. Jason ... I laughed much more than I thought I would

Lori said...

I know...not exactly highbrow stuff. But it's worth it just for that part where Jason ends up back at the lake and meets those camp bimbos. That was inspired.

Anonymous said...

lovely site..am blogrolling it for easier access..

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks, Pythoroshan .. come back anytime!

Greg said...

Blast it all...*now* there's a 2-disc Chainsaw DVD? I just rented the one with only the Hooper/Hansen commentary.

The Spanish version of Dracula is a better film than the Browning version. I don't know if I can compare it to The Browning Version, however...

Reel Fanatic said...

The packaging and constant repackaging of DVD sets can be a constant problem, Greg .. I've been snookered into buying a couple "special" editions only to find another one six months later

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love your blog. Best one I've stumbled across...