Eraserhead (Criterion Collection) – There is a wealth of great stuff available on Blu today; so much so that it was a real challenge to pick a headliner. In the end, I went with the one I figured probably the least of you have seen who need to.
David Lynch’s first film is still in many ways his best. It’s weird but not indecipherable – even a viewer determined to avoid subtext will know it’s about a lonely guy with a vertical hairdo who’s forced to care for a mutant worm-baby that may or may not be his, while a woman with bee-stung cheeks sings songs inside the radiator, and a man inside a planet pulls levers that make it rain fetuses. It seems to be a dark fable about the fear of fatherhood, but I’d hesitate to say for a fact what it is, lest I ruin your personal interpretation – suffice it to say it’s dark, funny, disturbing and compelling, and this Blu-ray has a whole lot more extras than the DVD Lynch initially made available only online. They’re all sorted by year, so you have to click on the timeline to reveal what kind of archival footage you may be getting, from early trailers to interviews (none of which will explain the plot to you; Lynch has also famously never told how the baby was made). There’s even a featurette where the director walks you through perfectly calibrating your TV for his film, though you may want to remember your default settings first.
Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II – If I need to describe these movies to you, you might have arrived at this website by mistake. I rewatched Ghostbusters about a year ago, and was stunned by how smart and adult it still was, given that it’s a big special effects film and was the #1 blockbuster of its year, 1984. Guardians of the Galaxy has been compared to it, but I still say, for now, that Ghostbusters is better (sorry, but there’s nothing in it as obviously foreshadowing as Guardians‘ “Take my hand,” and the music is better). It has been embraced in some corners as a pro-business, libertarian manifesto, and in far more (like here) as one of the most pro-nerd movies not to feature uncomfortable near-rape (there is, however, a ghost blowjob, which you might want to be reminded of before you show the kids). It’s only because the first is so good, and it spawned a well-liked cartoon in the interim, that the second felt like a disappointment – but it was still fun, and I have a feeling it probably holds up quite well.
The discs include most of the extras from previous versions (the PS3 game featurette is gone), with new interviews of Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd by Geoff Boucher, as well as deleted and alternate TV-version scenes, and the Ray Parker Jr. and Bobby Brown music videos we all love. If you really hate part II, the discs can be be bought separately, but if you buy them together you can get bonuses ranging from a 25-page booklet to a Slimer statue.
Godzilla – Hey, let’s again have the debate about Godzilla is hardly in it! Yes, I’ve seen the YouTube montages, and I think they’re misleading, as they don’t include scenes where the monsters are directly affecting something but not entirely seen on camera. I agree that the cut away after Godzilla’s first big roar is hilariously frustrating, but there’s plenty of action to keep me going, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson strikes me as a genuine military everyman, which may not make him superheroic, but I’ll take believable. It’s a huge leap forward for director Gareth Edwards from Monsters, anyway, which hid its monsters even more, and made them metaphors for Mexican immigrants.
Besides, most Godzilla movies spend an inordinate amount of time on boring human characters. And next time we get Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah.
Sleepy Hollow Season 1/Grimm Season 3/Hannibal Season 2 – Really? You want to put these ALL out today? Okay then. Fans of violent interpretations of some our classic myths old and new are in for a budget busting time with fairy tales, cannibals and apocalyptic horsemen. And I picked Arrow to marathon with.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 40th Anniversary Edition – As with any true horror cult classic, it seems there are ALWAYS more bonus features that can be had, and while this version collects many previous extras, it also adds two new commentary tracks to the existing two, so that you can learn every possible aspect of production you’d ever need to know. It’s probably the most complete version you’ll ever own until they do the 45th anniversary edition.
And just so you know – the original does indeed separate the words “chain” and “saw.” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the remake.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 30th Anniversary – Repeat most everything I said above, except for a less good movie that’s mainly remembered for its killer Santa gimmick.
South Park Season 17 – George Zimmerman, Minecraft, TV murder porn, religious wars, Black Friday and Game of Thrones were the primary targets this time around. If you can ignore the fact that Trey and Matt basically spent three of the 10 episodes plugging their new video game, it was good stuff, with the Zimmerman/World War Z parody particularly ballsy and/or tasteless, depending on your tastes.
Now – how DO you tame a horse in Minecraft?
Flesh and Blood (Unrated Director’s Cut) – Paul Verhoeven’s medieval action movie is as balls-to-the-wall brutal as you’d expect, with Rutger Hauer slicing his way through the plague-filled Middle Ages, and Jennifer Jason Leigh frequently naked. A must-see for fans of the director; not so much for the squeamish.
Dreamcatcher and Congo – These should be packaged together in a super-suck set. In the first, based on a book Stephen King apparently wrote when he was high on pain medication, ass-bursting aliens called shit weasels get defeated by a magic mentally handicapped man played by Donnie Wahlberg. In the second, Laura Linney and Dylan Walsh take a real-life jungle cruise that bears a striking resemblance to the Disney ride version, but with killer mutant apes. Bruce Campbell dies in the opening scene.
The Battery – It’s tough to find a new take on the zombie genre, but this one comes close, aiming for viewers who are fans of David Gordon Green’s early, art-house films as well as zombie apocalypse scenarios. In a movie so low-budget that most of the gore is offscreen, two baseball players wander the mostly empty countryside – one adapting to the new hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the other less so and desperately trying to follow a radio signal to a gated community that has been very clear they don’t want company. It’s very slow-paced and character-driven, but worth it for the Cujo-inspired finale that sees our two protagonists cornered inside their car for several days.
Meteor – Before Deep Impact and Armageddon, Sean Connery saved us from falling space rocks.
The Dead 2 – I reviewed this last October at Screamfest. To quote myself: “What fans of the book wanted from World War Z is gradually being delivered by Howard and Jon Ford’s The Dead series, which began by following a zombie outbreak in Africa, and now moves to India, where an American engineer and a local orphan boy must traverse a zombie-infested desert en route to Mumbai, where the man hopes his fiancee still awaits.
If it weren’t for the setting, this might be an overly familiar tale…but you can say the same about Dawn of the Dead in a way, can’t you? (no shopping mall = no classic?) Point is, the setting matters. The opening helicopter shot of our hero high up on a windmill is stunning, and the Indian settings give the zombie horror formula a new life – the full white-out contacts are particularly creepy on the locals.
Plus one estranged foreigner + a street-smart kid > Brad Pitt’s lame-ass movie family nobody cares about.”
From Dusk Till Dawn Season 1 – Jeebus, ANOTHER genre show box set today? Well, probably most of you don’t get the El Rey network, so here’s the TV spinoff of Robert Rodriguez’s vampire tale, which reboots the story of the Gecko brothers. Presumably they switched to Geico.
Juan of the Dead – A zombie comedy from Cuba. I saw it a couple years ago, late at night but vaguely remember it being pretty fun.
Spartacus: The Complete Series – Hey Billy, do you like shows about gladiators?
If I missed anything in today’s picks, I’m sure you’ll let me know. But that certainly seems like more than enough to get you through the month, let alone the week.