My Two Cents

My Two Cents

Afternoon, folks. Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday. I’ve been working on some little tweaks and bug fixes on the new site design here. Still, Dr. Jahnke’s Oktoberfest review for yesterday went live as expected - Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator on Blu-ray from Image - while his review for today is none other than Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse now on Blu from our friends at Shout! Factory via their Scream Factory line. Enjoy!

A number of you have asked if we’re going to be posting reviews of E.T., Prometheus and the Bond 50 box set, and the answer is definitely yes! E.T. will be up early next week and I’m hard at work on Bond right now. I’m only a couple films into the Bond set given my recent travels, but I’ll tell you it’s pretty terrific. How nice it is to finally have all the films in a single box set... and in high-definition too! More on Bond hopefully next week, but I would say that if you’re a fan don’t hesitate to pick yourself up a copy. The BD upgrade is worth the money.

As for Prometheus - now THAT is a more complicated subject. I’m definitely working on a review and frankly I can’t wait to A) watch our friend Charlie de Lauzirika’s in-depth documentary on the set and B) listen to the audio commentary tracks on the film. I just wish I liked the film more than I do. I actually watched it for a second time yesterday and unfortunately it did nothing to improve my feelings that this film tried to be both an Alien prequel and a completely original sci-fi story at the same time and failed at both. A few of my friends who liked the film tell me “Yeah, but you must have missed all the amazing symbolism and metaphor...” and “But there’s all this other great backstory going on... all these great high-concept ideas...” Sadly no. I got all of it. I understand the implications of "2,000 years ago" and the murals changing when the humans walked in. I mean, come on... they named both the ship and the film ‘Prometheus’. They weren’t exactly subtle. But the script is just full of holes - not so much the backstory or larger concept but I’m talking about stupid characters doing really stupid things on a trillion dollar space mission. I simply wish that director Ridley Scott had focused on making a great Alien prequel OR making a great and completely original sci-fi film - just not both at the same time. Because the film that resulted is a gorgeous looking mess in my opinion. And I think a lot of people are giving the film a bit of a pass because it's "Ridley's big return to the genre", etc. Anyway, if you loved the film... more power to you. I just wish I had. More in my review of the Blu-ray again hopefully next week.

By the way, I’m still working on answering all those e-mails you guys have sent in. Just so you know!

In announcement news today, Universal has set Cape Fear (1962), Fear and The Bone Collector for Blu-ray Disc release on 1/8/2013.

Okay... regarding the Best Buy-exclusive Bond movie BD singles - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me - we’re hearing from sources that they’ve been delayed from release in Best Buy stores until 10/23. This despite the fact that one or two readers HAVE reported finding them in their local stores. We’re not sure what the confusion at Best Buy is, though it might be due to product supply issues. In any case, it looks like they’re still coming. And Walmart and Target stores do seem to have their own Bond BD exclusives out on store shelves.

Speaking of Best Buy-exclusive Blu-rays, many readers are reporting that the retailer does now have an exclusive 7-film Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray box set available for around $45. Do check it out if you’re a fan of the series.

And while we’re talking Target exclusives, they apparently have a Blu-ray Book edition of The Dark Knight Rises coming on 12/4 for $31.99. Thanks to Bits reader Steve for the heads-up.

Is anyone else frustrated by all these retailer exclusives? It’s not that some of them aren’t cool and desirable, it’s that allowing titles to be exclusive to a particular retailer or chain makes it harder for customers to track them down - particularly when the chain in question has no locations near you. From our standpoint, they’re also frustrating because the studios typically refuse to provide information about the exclusives, instead allowing the retailers to take the lead on disseminating information about them. And outside of appearances in their Sunday circular ads, the retailers are all uniformly bad about making them known to fans. Ah well.

A quick note: Ben Affleck’s Argo arrives in theatres this weekend and early word is it’s pretty terrific. Be sure to check it out.

Finally today, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of former Detroit Lions lineman and actor Alex Karras. TV fans will remember him as George Papadapolis on Webster, thought I’ll always recall him fondly for his appearance as Mongo in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. "Mongo only pawn in game of life." So are we all, Mongo. Karras was 77.

Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Warner's A Star is Born (2/5/2013) and Grand Hotel (1/8/2013), and Universal's Ted (12/11)... 

A Star Is Born (Blu-ray Disc)    Grand Hotel (Blu-ray Disc)    Ted (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend and stay tuned.

- Bill Hunt


All right, I’m finally starting to get caught up on work after spending the last few days driving cross-country and helping Mom move into her news place. So let’s get down to business…

First though, today’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review from Adam is Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case 3: The Progeny, now available on DVD from our friends at Synapse. Do check it out!

We’ve also updated the Release Dates & Artwork section today with this week’s update from Russell Hammond, featuring all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from them after clicking through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really do appreciate it!

Now then… Universal has officially set Seth MacFarlane’s Ted for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 12/11. Both will include an unrated version of the film, along with audio commentary (by director and co-writer Seth MacFarlane, co-writer Alec Sulkin and star Mark Wahlberg), the Ted: The Making Of documentary and a gag reel. The Blu-ray will also add deleted scenes, alternate takes and the Teddy Bear Scuffle featurette, in addition to the usual interactive BD-Live and BD-Java options.

Universal has also set the DVD release of Columbo: The Complete Series for 10/16. All 69 episodes and 24 television movies are included in the 36-disc set.

In other news, Warner Home Video has officially announced the Blu-ray Book release of A Star is Born on 2/5/2013 (SRP $34.99). Extras will include commentary by star Barbra Streisand, deleted scenes, wardrobe tests and a trailer gallery.

Warner Home Video has also announced that the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Parts 1 and 2: Ultimate Edition box set will arrive in wide release as a 6-disc Blu-ray and DVD Combo pack on 11/13 (SRP $64.99). This appears to be the exact same version that’s currently exclusive to Target stores, right down to the same contents – the two movies on BD and DVD respectively, the documentary BD discs (containing the final two parts of the on-going documentary series created for the UEs), the 4 characters cards and a single book. The sticker on the Target edition claimed an exclusive until 1/6, so either it’s in error or WHV decided to get the wide-release of the set out sooner rather than later to appease fans. Still, we’re hearing lots of frustration from readers about this set. First, there was supposed to be a book that accompanied each installment in the documentary, and this set contains only one. Second, the documentaries on this set are on Blu-ray only so those who have purchased all the previous DVD versions of the UE sets are out of luck. Finally, the set doesn’t include the Blu-ray 3D versions of the films. So it seems few fans are happy with this release at the moment.

In other release news, Sony has set the remake of Total Recall for 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 2-disc BD combo and DVD release on 12/18.  The Blu-ray/DVD Combo will include both the theatrical cut and a 20-minute longer Director’s Extended Cut of the film, along with commentary by director Len Wiseman, the interactive Total Recall Insight Mode, a gag reel, 3 production featurettes (Science Fiction vs. Science Fact, Designing the Fall and Stepping into Recall), 7 Total Action featurettes, a playable God of War: Ascension PS3 game demo and more.

Also, Somerville House has set Duccio Tesori’s Zorro (starring Alain Delon) for Blu-ray and DVD release on 11/20 (SRP $24.98 and $19.98). Extras will include the trailer, a stills gallery and radio and TV promos.

And Shout! Factory has Mike Judge’s The Goode Family: The Complete Series coming on DVD on 1/8/2013. The 2-disc set will contain all 13 episodes.

Here’s a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Warner’s “wide release” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Parts 1 and 2: Ultimate Edition box set and Cabaret: 40th Anniversary Edition (due 2/15) as well as Sony’s Total Recall

Harry Potter: Year 7 Ultimate Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)    Cabaret (Blu-ray Disc)    Total Recall (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt


All right… so I get back from my little family caravan, cross-country adventure and find like 1,500 emails in my inbox this morning – nearly one for each mile I drove this weekend. Needless to say, it’s going to take a little time to get through them all today.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jahnke’s next Oktoberfest review is now live – none other than Charles Kauffman’s Mother’s Day from Troma and Anchor Bay!

Also today, Warner Home Video has officially re-announced the delayed Blu-ray Book release of Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun for release on 11/13. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Warner has also announced its Cabaret: 40th Anniversary Edition for release on Blu-ray Book and DVD on 2/15/13 (SRP $27.98 and $14.97). Extras will include the all-new Cabaret: The Musical That Changed Musicals documentary, along with the vintage documentaries Cabaret: A Legend in the Making and The Recreation of an Era, a multi-part memory gallery and more.

And 20th Century Fox has set Beasts of the Southern Wild for Blu-ray and DVD release on 12/4. Extras will include The Making of Beasts of the Southern Wild documentary, trailers and sneak peeks. Exclusive on the Blu-ray will be deleted scenes with optional director's commentary, audition videos (for Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry and the two of them together) and 3 additional featurettes (Glory at Sea, Music and The Aurochs).

More announcement news will follow.

Meanwhile, for those of you who – like me – are interested in such things… a crazy awesome fellow named Felix Baumgartner is attempting to skydive to Earth Captain Kirk-style from the world’s largest hot air balloon at 120,000 feet (a.k.a. the edge of space) this morning high over New Mexico. That would be a world's record for the highest skydive ever. You can watch the attempt live RIGHT NOW via YouTube below. Good luck, Felix!

Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt


Morning, folks!

First up today, Adam kicks off his second week of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest 666 with a review of Mario Bava's Black Sunday on Blu-ray Disc from Kino! It's a bit of classic Italian horror and is just the perfect thing for the Halloween season. Many American audiences may not have seen it, so it's also a nice little discovery for some of you. Enjoy!

Today's post is brief but I'll make it up to you guys tomorrow with a full release news update. The reason is that, over the weekend, I drove halfway across the country with my family - from North Dakota to California. We're moving my Mom into an awesome new retirement condo this afternoon that we've remodeled for her here in Orange County. So along with Mom, and my brother and step-sister, we packed up a moving van and Mom's car full of her stuff (plus her two cats, which made things interesting!) and we drove 1,700 miles in two days through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Nevada, stopping here and there to see such sights as the Badlands and the world's largest Holstein cow. No kidding! Quite the family trip. Plus our family finally buried my Dad's ashes last week as well. As you can imagine, it was a weekend full of all kinds of change and emotion, but good things as well.

Anyway, thanks for your patience while I finish this up today. Just so you know, the new site continues to work well. We had a little glitch on Friday that was quickly worked out but all is now running smoothly. I expect to be back full operation mode by Wednesday and hope to get back to all your e-mails sometime later this week. Meanwhile, Dr. Jahnke continues his most excellent Oktoberfest in fine form!

So have a great day, back tomorrow... and stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt


All right, today's final update for the week is going to pale in comparison to yesterday's big Warner news, but still we've got a few good things for you...

First of all, Adam rounds out his first full week of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest 666 with a bang by delivering his epic, in-depth review of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set! Sounds like it’s pretty awesome and well worth your hard earned clams, so be sure to get yourselves a copy while they’re on sale.

Next up, we do have one more bit of Warner news to report today: WHV has officially set The Jazz Singer for 3-disc Blu-ray Book release on 1/8/2013 (SRP $35.99). Extras will include audio commentary by film historians Ron Hutchinson (founder of The Vitaphone Project) and Vince Giordano, a collection of vintage cartoons and shorts (Al Jolson in A Plantation Act, An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee, I Love to Singa, Hollywood Handicap and A Day at Santa Anita), the 1947 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast starring Al Jolson, the film's theatrical trailer, the feature-length The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk documentary, 2 rare excerpts from Gold Diggers of Broadway (a 1929 WB film, most of which is considered lost), studio shorts celebrating the early sound era (Finding His Voice, The Voice That Thrilled the World, Okay for Sound, When Talkies Were Young and The Voice from the Screen) and a collection of rare Vitaphone shorts (some 3 and a half hours worth) many considered lost for decades.

Also today, Universal has set the animated ParaNorman for Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 11/27. In addition to all the usual bells and whistles, all three versions will include audio commentary with director Sam Fell and writer/director Chris Butler, 7 short featurettes on the characters, the Peering Through the Veil production featurette and Preliminary Animatic Sequences with commentary.

In other news, we’ve got a quick follow-up on the status of those retailer exclusive Bond BD singles. Readers are reporting to us that they've now seen the three Walmart exclusive titles in stores, although initial stocks appear to be limited. The three Target-exclusive titles are also now arriving in stores - several East Coast readers have reported seeing them. As for the three Best Buy-exclusive titles, we have no sightings yet, however sources tell us that they may arrive in stores next week and in fact may appear in Sunday newspaper circular ads this weekend so be sure to watch for them.

Finally, one more item for you Bond fans: The new title track for the upcoming Bond film Skyfall is now available for purchase and preview, as sung by Adele. It had its official debut early this morning on her official website. Do check it out.

All right, that’s all for this week. It's been a big one!

Have a great weekend and stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt


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