Saturday, October 07, 2006

HORROR MONTH: DVD Survival Guide

To fill up your month of horror, you will no doubt need countless movies of said genre to occupy your time before the holiday season arrives. If you haven't noticed, horror fans -- maybe more than any other genre -- are entitled to a booty of low-price but high-quality DVDs, often in handy box sets. I've noticed some particularly juicy deals lately, and I will pass the savings on to you, in the hopes that your Halloween movie viewings be that much better.

Fright Pack: Campy Classics
The sight of this box set at BestBuy today actually inspired this column, I couldn't believe such a set existed without my knowledge. Apparently Anchor Bay has a variety of these Fright Packs in other horror genres (check them out here), but this set is easily the most impressive. Encased in delectable lunch box/six pack packaging, it includes Sleepaway Camp (complete trash, as I have explained, but worth owning at this price), Return to Horror High, Transylvania 6-5000, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Vamp and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. 'Vamp' is a definite weak link in this otherwise outstanding bunch, but the rest are all quality camp horror. I never even realized there was a sequel to 'Horror High,' but it sounds fun, as does 'Elvira.' 'Transylvania' is a great Halloween comedy with a cast including Jeff Goldblum, Michael Richards and a very young Geena Davis. Thankfully Anchor Bay has priced this right, and it's pretty hard to resist this time of year.

The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection

This one's been around for a long time, and was an instant hit because it was high quality with a very attractive MSRP ($60), now the price has dropped even more, and even though I'm not the biggest 'Nightmare' fan, I just may have to pick this one up now. Originally released as nothing more than a display box with all the regular DVDs inside (as well as the extras DVD), it has apparently been re-released in more elegant packaging with slip cases for each movie (whose spines combine to form a nice pic of Freddie on one side of the box). No luck in finding a picture of it online, but it looks very sharp and it even comes with 3-D glasses for 'Freddie's Dead,' as well as an extras disc loaded with goodies. If only this much care was given to the whoop-dee-shit Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan set, which puts two movies on each disc and offers little in the way of extras.

The Val Lewton Horror Collection

A very impressive (and popular) set that gives you nine genuinely chilling horror classics. I haven't seen all of these, but from what I've seen of Lewton, I really need to buy this one. I saw The Leopard Man and The Body Snatcher earlier this year and really got into both of them, The Leopard Man in particular. While uneven as a whole, 'The Leopard Man' has a few scenes that will still scare almost anyone, notably a scene in a cemetery that I will touch on later this mont. Lewton was a prolific horror producer, with Cat People being his best known work. For $50 this is a great buy and a slice of horror that any fan of the genre should check out.

Frankenstein, Dracula: The Legacy Collections ($20 each)
Universal outdid everyone's expectations when they gave the 'Legacy' treatment to all their monsters two years ago (in celebration of, ugh, 'Van Helsing'). You can probably stand to pass over the sets for Creature and the Invisible Man, but these two are essential. Not all of the 5 movies included in the sets are exactly worthwhile, but in Dracula's case you get the Bela Lugosi classic, but also the Spanish version -- filmed on the same set as the English version, but some consider the Spanish version superior in ways because they were able to observe the English filmmakers and see what worked and what didn't. Frankenstein's Legacy series is a must-buy if only for 'Frankenstein' and 'Bride of Frankenstein,' the latter being one of the greatest sequels ever made, enriching the character and offering a superior story. It's for these reasons that you should take the Legacy series over the recently-released 75th anniversary editions of Dracula and Frankenstein, which have remastered quality but not the broad appeal of offering multiple movies for only $20.

Various Double Feature DVDs ($7-$10)
You can still find a lot of trashy/camp horror on double feature DVDs, which usually means there's one quality movie on it. The best example of this I found was a Tales From the Crypt double feature with Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood on it. While 'Demon Knight' is one helluva bloody good ride (a sure bet to please everyone at a Halloween party), 'Bordello of Blood' has Dennis Miller and nothing else. Same goes for Poltergeist II/III, the former is an underrated chiller while the latter is unintentionally hilarious throughout, only you feel bad laughing because the little girl who played Carol Ann died during shooting.

No comments: