October 27, 2012
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DVDs good for Halloween scares
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


Johnny Deppas Barnabas Collins in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' gothic comedy 'Dark Shadows'. (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Bloody well right -- it's Halloween and time to scream.

The season inspires a torrent of new DVD and Blu-ray releases in the horror genre. Some are old titles rising from the crypt in restored versions. Some are new titles debuting on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. None is a classic. But watching horror movies at Halloween is a cultish thing anyway. A cross-section of recent releases:

DARK SHADOWS (2012):

It seemed like genius for Tim Burton to re-imagine the Dark Shadows mythology. Especially with Johnny Depp as cursed vampire Barnabas Collins, who escapes from his two-century solitude to wreck havoc in 1972 America. It turns out that Depp is terrifically creepy looking. But he is the only one playing it all for camp comedy. The other actors, led by Michelle Pfeiffer, are way too straight and serious and Burton's movie turns deadly dull. The consolation: It looks Gothic-good, especially on the Blu-ray in the two-disc combo pack combining DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy.

THE FUNHOUSE (1981):

The new Collector's Edition offers a superior restored version of Tobe Hooper's badass slasher flick. Four stoned teens face their worst fears at a town carnival, particularly in the funhouse maze where a disfigured man lurks, ready to kill. The flick is scary and absurdly funny, not least for '80s fashions and attitudes.


TERROR TRAIN (1980):

This '80s schlock piece is also restored, although the results are not as polished. This one is also out in a new Collector's Edition, in this case a two-disc combo pack with DVD and Blu-ray. The movie, set on a vintage train carrying a gaggle of college kids partying in costume on New Year's Eve, is Canadian-born director Roger Spottiswoode's debut. So it's crude, but horror queen Jamie Lee Curtis stars and magician David Copperfield has a major role doing tricks.

QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (2002):

Based on an Anne Rice novel, The Vampire Chronicles, this horror spectacle stars Stuart Townsend and Aaliyah. When Townsend, as the vampire Lestat, becomes a modern rock star, Aaliyah's character also wants in on the blood 'n' guts action. The movie looks fabulous on Blu-ray, even if it remains ridiculously melodramatic.

CHAINED (2012):

Defying all limits of taste, the latest opus of Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David) is a serious slasher movie with deep psychological roots. Vincent D'Onofrio plays a cab driver who routinely kidnaps, rapes, mutilates and murders women. When he spares the young son of one victim, he turns the boy into a chained slave and raises him with "the love" of a demented father. This film is profoundly disturbing, challenging and frightening. It is now available separately on DVD and Blu-ray.

EXCISION (2012):

Sick and twisted rules the life of a weirdo 18-year-old high school student. She has "psychosexual fantasies" about extreme surgery. That can't be a good thing. AnnaLynne McCord (from the latest 90210) makes quite an impression as the outcast, while former porn star Traci Lords is her mother. The movie is available separately on DVD and Blu-ray in unrated versions.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON:

With the innovative zombie series now in its third season on TV, Halloween lets us re-visit second two on DVD and Blu-ray. It fits nicely into the witching hours of All Hallows Eve, even if this season is not as good as one or three.

 




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