Is it just me, or is the Halloween season starting early this year? Sure, Michael’s started putting out its autumnal stuff in July, but that’s only because the crafters need a head start with their knitting needles and glue guns and whatnots. For the first time, my local Spirit Halloween Store opened in August! Twitter is abuzz with freaks like us, just wanting Scary Movie Month to begin. Could it be that the world itself has become so awful and ridiculous that we are all pining for the respite of Spooky Time, when we can ignore the world-at-large for thirty-one sweet days and focus on monsters? I think I’m on to something. Next year with the national election in full swing, look for Halloween season to start in April or May. Why not?
What few physical media companies we have left will continue the tradition of obliging us each October with delightful scare fare. This October, we have an embarrassment of riches coming down the gravy pipe, and this column will briefly discuss the new releases to which I am most looking forward.
Spelling Entertainment will release The Stand TV miniseries on Blu-ray disc for the first time, promising on the packaging that it has been “brilliantly restored.” I’ve liked this book since I first read it in high school, and I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for the miniseries. True, they couldn’t fit the entire epic novel into six hours, and some parts work better than others, but overall it’s an impressive attempt. If last week’s release of It: Chapter Two has you pining for more King adaptations, pick this one up.
Paramount will release a “20th Anniversary Edition” of Sleepy Hollow on Blu-ray. The digibook contains the full text of the original Washington Irving short story. The folks over at Home Theater Forum are not sure if this will be a new transfer, but they all agree the previous transfer was problematic. I really love this film and I’ve wondered why it didn’t get the attention it deserved when first released, although McFarland did come out with really cool action figures. The Ichabod Crane came with a little doctor’s bag stuffed with dozens of tiny implements. I’m going to wait and see what the reviews say about this one, but if it’s an upgrade, it’s a must-buy, even though the disc will be housed in an infernal digibook!
Hellraiser and Hellbound on Blu-ray. Knowing the good people at Arrow, these transfers will be flawless and the extras will be definitive. I’m a little surprised that Hellraiser doesn’t come with a bonus “Your Suffering Will Be Legendary” Home Skin Peel Kit, but we can dream, can’t we?
Indicator Video will release The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger on Blu-ray. Although these are not technically Halloween movies, The Seventh Voyage does contain that cool skeleton army sword fight and all three films feature magical Ray Harryhausen-animated monsters. You be the judge. I’m picking them up.
Universal continues to repackage the Master of Suspense with a new “House of Hitchcock” Blu-ray collection. I really like the Bates Motel “Do Not Disturb” sign, but $90 is a little steep for a slip of paper and 15 movies I already own: The Birds, Family Plot, Frenzy, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Marnie, North by Northwest, Psycho, Rope, Rear Window, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Topaz, Torn Curtain, The Trouble With Harry, and Vertigo.
Cinedigm will finally release Anna and the Apocalypse on DVD. A big favorite from last year, I don’t know why this release has taken so long or where the hell the Blu-ray disc is, but I’m happy to have this ambitious little film on physical media. A musical about high school and the end of the world, Anna was one of my nicest surprise-VOD-screenings last year. Ella Hunt should be in every movie.
Bereft of any tasty new releases. October 8th is a trick, not a treat.
Kino Lorber will release a new 4K scan of And Soon the Darkness on Blu-ray. I haven’t seen this film in a dog’s age, but I remember really liking it when I saw it last (I believe in college!) It stars Pamela Franklin and Michele Dotrice, and was directed by Robert Fuest, who also directed The Abominable Dr. Phibes. This new release features an audio commentary with both the director and screenwriter. This is my “Blind Buy Recommendation” of the month.
Arrow Video will release the “standard version” of its previous “limited edition” of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The new set retains the stunning transfer and extras, but comes housed in a standard keep case, without the special packaging and paper extras of the previous edition. This is one of my favorite gothic horror films of all time. If you did not avail yourself of the previous version, pick this up. It’s a haunted house in a box!
The Blob; and… drum roll please… what is shaping up to be one of the outstanding releases of the year: the Criterion Collection’s fabled spine number 1000, Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975. This collection features 15 kaiju classics and a Godzilla-sized collection of bonus features.
This represents four must-have special editions and two box sets. Criswell predicts… it is going to be a very expensive October 29th. Start suggesting that people give you cash instead of candy on Halloween to help offset your end-of-the-month credit card bill. Maybe Amazon can start offering discounts in exchange for blood and platelet donations! Try walking around your neighborhood, surreptitiously collecting outdoor Halloween décor and then try returning it to Spirit Halloween for cash! One economic tip I can offer is that the annual Barnes & Noble Criterion sale will occur in early November, so those who are patient can pick up the Godzilla set at half price. At least that’s something.
So, my friends: hie thee hence to the interwebs and revel in these Unholy Retail Offerings of the Damned! We can all try to imagine that it’s Satan draining our wallets by tempting us with these scary and expensive treats. Perhaps that will make it seem like “…only a movie… only a movie….” when Halloween is over, and we’ve all been evicted from our homes for failing to make our mortgage payments. Look, Mr. Banker, sir-- it was a clear choice between a Criterion Collection Godzilla box set and paying the damn rent, and I HAVE PRIORITIES.
Let’s make some popcorn.