New On Blu-ray The Shining 4K

In an odd twist of fate, coincidence, or maybe just because it’s Halloween season, every title in this week’s Blu-ray round-up is a horror movie. So if you’re not a horror fan, uh…see you next time! For everyone else, these are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

The Shining 4K

Ever hear about this film called The Shining? It’s an underrated gem that no one talks about. I’m kidding, of course. Everyone knows Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining, an iconic horror film that fans have been obsessing over for decades. Kubrick’s loose adaptation of Stephen King‘s tale of terror is a masterclass in psychological horror, all of it captured with Kubrick’s own obsessive eye. Writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) moves his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) into the super-secluded Overlook Hotel for the winter. They’re the hotel’s only occupants – or are they? The Overlook is a severely haunted place, and Danny is a child with psychic abilities – abilities that make him extra vulnerable to the Overlook’s torments.

Stephen King has spent the last few decades talking about how much he hates this movie, primarily because Kubrick abandons a lot of King’s ideas, and also because Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance seems batshit crazy from the first time we see him, rather than a man slowly going insane within the walls of a haunted hotel. But there’s a reason this movie remains a horror classic. It’s a chilling, slow-burn experience that hypnotizes you – like a snake hypnotizing its prey, ready to strike.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Even if you’ve seen The Shining dozens upon dozens of times (lord knows I have), this is the definitive version to own. This 4K release looks stunning – the movie has never looked so clean and crisp. With the 4K transfer, you’ll notice things in the frame you never noticed before – even if you’re one of those people who obsessively studies this movie. It’s a remarkable achievement and one of the best excuses to finally give in to the wonderful world of 4K. On top of that, now is the perfect time to revisit Kubrick’s film – because Mike Flanagan’s sequel Doctor Sleep will be in theaters soon.

Special Features Include: 

  • Audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Stanley Kubrick biographer John Baxter
  • Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining
    • Enter the terrifying world of the Overlook Hotel as only Stanley Kubrick could envision it
  • The Visions of Stanley Kubrick
    • A detailed look at one of cinema’s greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images
  • The Making of The Shining
    • This cinema verite documentary offers a rare glimpse into the directing style of Stanley Kubrick as he interacts with stars Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall and others
  • Wendy Carlos, Composer
    • Composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with complex auteur Stanley Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange

 

Crawl

Crawl is a no-nonsense monster movie, and there’s something refreshing about that. There’s no hidden subtext here; no attempts at something smarter, or “elevated.” Instead, it’s an excuse to trap some people in a flooding house with a bunch of hungry, hungry alligators. Kaya Scodelario plays a college student with a knack for competitive swimming. That’ll come in handy because she ends up traveling to her father’s house to check on him during a hurricane. She finds dad (Barry Pepper) passed out and bloody in the basement. She also finds several big-ass gators who have set up shop in the house. What follows is a lean, mean 87-minute machine where Scodelario’s character fights her way through the gators, and where random poor saps show up just long enough to turn into alligator chow. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, and best of all, there’s a dog – and the dog lives.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:

Crawl is so much fun that it’s the perfect movie to revisit again and again. I hate to use the phrase “turn your brain off”, because it’s silly. But this is definitely one of those movies you can pop on at any time and casually watch – or watch closely and remain riveted. The special features aren’t anything to write home about, save for a featurette devoted to the many special effects that went into creating the film – from the alligators to the settings. But the bottom line is that Crawl is worth owning because it’s the exact type of mid-budget, high-concept horror-thriller we could use a lot more of.

Special Features Include: 

  • Intro to Alternate Opening
  • Alternate Opening
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Beneath Crawl
  • Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl
  • Alligator Attacks

 

The Omen Box Set

What a treat this is. Scream! Factory has put together the definitive The Omen box set, featuring all of the films – even that terrible 2006 remake that I’m sure you forgot about! The first film, 1976’s The Omen, is the unquestionable best in the series. American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) become new parents – but tragedy strikes almost immediately. After the birth of their son, Robert is informed the baby has died. But a priest at the hospital gives Robert the opportunity to adopt a child who was orphaned when his mother died during childbirth. Robert takes the priest up on the offer, but neglects to tell his wife about this. The baby is named Damien. Jump ahead five years and Damien looks like a normal, bright-eyed boy. But deadly things start happening, and Robert gets it in his head that his adopted son might just be the antichrist. Spoiler: he is.

Part of the fun of the original film is the way it plays with the audience – it takes nearly the whole film before we learn that Damien really is the antichrist. Up until then, we’re meant to think that it might be possible, or that Robert is being overly paranoid.

Damien: Omen II has Damien as a 12-year-old boy attending military school. While we’re aware of who and what Damien is, he remains in the dark. Throughout the course of the film a series of Final Destination–style deaths befall anyone who dares to get in Damien’s way, and by the end of the movie, he’s learned his true evil nature – and accepted it. This paves the way for Omen III: The Final Conflict, where Damien is now a wealthy adult, played by Sam Neill. There’s a wealth of opportunity here, but Final Conflict fails to take advantage of it, and wastes its premise on a ho-hum film.

The 1991 TV movie Omen IV: The Awakening is more or less a remake of the original film, but with the cursed child now a girl – and a descendant of Damien. And then there’s the actual remake from 2006, which is close to a shot-for-shot remake of the ’76 movie. Despite a strong cast that includes Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, and Mia Farrow, it’s a bit of a bust.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

While not every film in The Omen franchise can be classified as “good”, I’d argue that they’re all watchable. There’s plenty of devilish fun to be had, and the prospect of having all the movies together in one set is too good to pass up. The first film has also been restored in a pristine-looking 4K transfer, and each disc (save for the one with the 2006 reamke) comes with new special features – primarily interviews with cast and crew members involved with each respective film. Admit it and accept it: even if you’re not a huge fan of this series, you want this box set.

Special Features Include: 

DISC ONE: THE OMEN (1976)

  • 4K Transfer From The Original Negative, Approved By Director Richard Donner
  • NEW The Devil’s Word – An Interview With Screenwriter David Seltzer
  • NEW It’s All For You – An Interview With Actress Holly Palance
  • NEW The Devil’s Music – An Interview With Composer Christopher Young Talking About Jerry Goldsmith’s Legendary Score
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco
  • Audio Commentary With Director Richard Donner And Editor Stuart Baird
  • Audio Commentary With Director Richard Donner And Filmmaker Brian Helgeland
  • Audio Commentary With Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman, And Jeff Bond
  • Isolated Score Track
  • Richard Donner On The Omen
  • The Omen Revelations
  • Curse Of Coincidence?
  • 666: The Omen Revealed
  • Screenwriter’s Notebook – An Interview With Writer David Seltzer
  • Introduction With Director Richard Donner (2006)
  • Deleted Scene With Commentary
  • An Appreciation – Wes Craven On The Omen
  • Jerry Goldsmith Discusses The Omen Score
  • Trailers From Hell Featuring Commentary By Filmmaker Larry Cohen
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Still Galleries – Behind The Scenes, Movie Stills, Posters, And Lobby Cards

DISC TWO: DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978)

  • NEW Damien’s Guardian – An Interview With Actress Lee Grant
  • NEW The Devil’s CEO – An Interview With Actor Robert Foxworth
  • NEW The Harbinger – An Interview With Actress Elizabeth Shepard
  • NEW Elizabeth Shepherd’s Scrapbook – A Look At Her Behind The Scenes Photos With Commentary By Elizabeth Shepherd
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco
  • Audio Commentary With Producer Harvey Bernhard
  • Vintage Featurette – Power And The Devil: The Making of Damien: Omen II
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spot
  • Still Gallery

DISC THREE: OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (1981)

  • NEW The Devil In The Detail – An Interview With Director Graham Baker
  • NEW Resurrecting The Devil – An Interview With Screenwriter/Associate Producer Andrew Birkin
  • NEW Interview With Production Assistant Jeanne Ferber
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Special Project Consultant Scott Michael Bosco
  • Audio Commentary With Director Graham Baker
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

DISC FOUR: OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING (1991)

  • NEW The Book Of Evil – An Interview With Screenwriter Brian Taggert
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
  • The Omen Legacy – A Documentary On The Omen films

DISC FIVE: THE OMEN (2006)

  • Audio Commentary With Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson, And Editor Dan Zimmermann
  • Unrated Extended Scenes And Extended Ending
  • Omenisms – Behind The Scenes Of The Omen (2006)
  • Abbey Road Recording Sessions Featurette
  • Revelation 666: Behind The Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers

 

Vampires

Back before he became a cruel troll on Twitter, James Woods was an actor, and a good one, to boot. One of Woods’ silliest roles was as badass vampire hunter Jack Crow in Vampires, John Carpenter‘s over-the-top take on the bloodsucker subgenre. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone calling this one of Carpenter’s best films, but it still has its charms. The plot involves Crow going after a master vampire after said vamp kills almost every single member of Crow’s Vatican-ordained vampire hunting team. All of this is really an excuse for Carpenter to stage a horror-Western overloaded with gore and make-up effects. This would ultimately be the last good movie Carpenter would make, following it up with the sort-of awful Ghosts of Mars and the utterly forgettable The Ward before he retired to play video games all day.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Again, even if this isn’t one of Carpenter’s best, it’s still entertaining, as most Carpenter movies are. The Scream! Factory release features a new interview with Carpenter, and a new interview with James Woods, too (if that’s something you actually want to watch). I’m of the opinion that every new bit of content from Carpenter is worth seeing, just because he’s getting up there in years, and I want to see as much of him as possible before it’s too late. I’ve accepted that he’ll probably never direct a movie again, but as long as he’s giving interviews, I’m going to watch/read them.

Special Features Include: 

  • NEW Time To Kill Some Vampires – An Interview With Composer/Director John Carpenter, Producer Sandy King Carpenter, And Cinematographer Garry B. Kibbe
  • NEW Jack The Slayer – An Interview With Actor James Woods
  • NEW The First Vampire – An Interview With Actor Thomas Ian Griffith
  • NEW Raising The Stakes – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
  • NEW Padre – An Interview With Actor Tim Guinee
  • Audio Commentary By Composer/Director John Carpenter
  • Isolated Score
  • Vintage Making Of Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

 

3 From Hell

Like it or not, Rob Zombie is back. The trash-horror auteur returns to his House of 1000 Corpses/Devil’s Rejects franchise for a third, and presumably final, entry. 3 From Hell is a step up from Zombie’s previous film, the almost unwatchable 31, but it still suffers from the same problems that have plagued the brunt of his directorial career. But for the first 45 minutes or so, 3 From Hell is surprisingly strong. The three anti-heroes of the Firefly Clan, Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) were gunned down at the end of Rejects, but Zombie brings them back in an admittedly lazy way: he just tells us they survived all those bullet wounds.

Haig, who died last month, was in poor health while filming, which means his character exits the movie rather early. His position in the trio is taken over by a new character, a Firefly cousin named Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake). The early moments of 3 From Hell play a bit like Zombie riffing on Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, zeroing-in on how violent murderers can be turned into pop-culture icons. But after a brutal, ugly sequence involving some hostages, 3 From Hell gets directionless as the main characters head to Mexico and get in more trouble.

Zombie has plenty of defenders and fans, and they will no doubt eat up what he’s serving here. But one of these days it would be nice if he would let someone else write one of his movies and just focus on the directing. He’s a filmmaker with a clear visual style – it’s the storytelling aspect he struggles with.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

You’re only going to want to own this if you’re a Zombie fan, or if you already own House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, and consider yourself a completist who has to have the full trilogy. Should you pick this up you’ll be rewarded with a 4-part documentary about the making of the movie. Zombie never skimps on behind-the-scenes elements of his movies, and the doc here is about as detailed as you could possibly get when it comes to a film like this

Special Features Include: 

  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Rob Zombie
  • “To Hell and Back: The Making of 3 From Hell” Featurette (4-Part Documentary Available on 4K and Blu-ray Only; Part 1 Available on DVD)

 

Two Evil Eyes

In 1990, horror legends Dario Argento and George A. Romero teamed for Two Evil Eyes. This mini-anthology tells two tales of terror inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and features ghastly make-up effects by the legendary Tom Savini. If all of that isn’t enough to get you interested, I don’t know what will. The first story, directed by Romero, feels almost like a deleted Creepshow segment. It follows a scheming wife (Adrienne Barbeau) trying to get her elderly dying husband’s fortune with the help of a shifty doctor (Ramy Zada). But when the old man finally croaks creepy complications arise, resulting in some gory payback.

The second tale, directed by Argento, is the best of the two. It’s a retelling of The Black Cat, and has Harvey Keitel as a rough, mean crime scene photographer in a somewhat abusive relationship with his far more timid girlfriend (Madeleine Potter). When the girlfriend brings home a stray cat, things start to get complicated – and violent. Argento brings his weirdo directing style to the segment, employing odd angles and wild POV shots that give the story a unique vibe that distances it from Romero’s more low-key segment.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Again: if you’re a horror fan, how can you not want to own this? The new Blue Underground release looks glorious, preserving the film grain and blue and red tones throughout. It’s all been restored to  4K via the original camera negative, and while some may find all that grain distracting, it only increases the overall experience of the film and lends it the appropriate amount of grindhouse-style charm.

Special Features Include: 

Disc 1 (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:

  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth, Author of Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Disc 2 (Blu-ray) Extras:
  • Two Masters’ Eyes – Interviews with Directors Dario Argento & George Romero, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor Tom Savini, Executive Producer Claudio Argento, and Asia Argento
  • Savini’s EFX – A Behind-the-Scenes look at the film’s Special Make-Up Effects
  • At Home With Tom Savini – A personal tour of Tom Savini’s home
  • Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero
  • NEW! Before I Wake – Interview with Star Ramy Zada
  • NEW! Behind The Wall – Interview with Star Madeleine Potter
  • NEW! One Maestro And Two Masters – Interview with Composer Pino Donaggio
  • NEW! Rewriting Poe – Interview with Co-Writer Franco Ferrini
  • NEW! The Cat Who Wouldn’t Die – Interview with Assistant Director Luigi Cozzi
  • NEW! Two Evil Brothers – Interview with Special Make-Up Assistant Everett Burrell
  • NEW! Working With George – Interview with Costume Designer Barbara Anderson
  • Disc 3 (CD):
  • TWO EVIL EYES Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Pino DonaggioCollectible Booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold
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