A Planet Fury-approved selection of notable genre releases for October.
Cinderella (1950) Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray and DVD Available Now
The Walt Disney classic finally makes it high definition debut. Though it was made over half a century ago, Cinderella remains a timeless work of animation. Part of its lasting appeal can be attributed to the amazing concept art of Mary Blair, whose gorgeous backgrounds and unique color palettes help to define its iconic visual style. Though she was only credited with color and styling, her influence in the look and feel of the finished product cannot be denied. Another aspect that is often overlooked is the lovely vocal contribution by actress Ilene Woods. She brings a measured confidence to the beloved heroine and her singing voice is as gorgeous as the animation.
• Tangled Ever After Animated Short
• Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland
• Diane Disney Miller Intro
• Personalized Digital Storybook: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You (Disney Second Screen Experience)
• The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story
• Classic DVD Bonus
Wes Anderson’s latest charmer is his most assured and work since Rushmore. In a meticulously art-directed version of the 1960s, two eccentric young outcasts (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) decide to run away together. Various kooky friends and relatives begin a search, including harried parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand (both in fine form). Beautiful 16mm cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman (Darjeeling Limited, CQ) and an inspired selection of songs and orchestral music help to create a compelling, joyful little fable. (And any film featuring a Franciose Hardy song demands your full attention.)
The Funhouse (1981) Scream Factory Blu-ray and DVD Available Now
Tobe Hooper’s follow-up to the solid TV movie Salem’s Lot is a mixed bag. A slight variation on the slasher genre, The Funhouse follows two bland couples on a double date at a county fair. Hormonal and high on cotton candy, they decide to spend the night in the slightly ominous funhouse attraction. Little do they realize that an albino nightmare with intimacy issues haunts the dark corridors. Great performances by the seasoned supporting cast, including Kevin Conway, Sylvia Miles and William Finley, elevate the derivative material. This is another solid Scream Factory release featuring a new high definition transfer, director commentary and interviews with key contributors.
Special Features include:
• Audio Commentary With Director Tobe Hooper, Moderated By Filmmaker Tim Sullivan
• Interview With Executive Producer Mark L. Lester And Composer John Beal
• Audio Interview With Actor William Finley
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
Terror Train (1980) Scream Factory Blu-ray & DVD Available Now
Though fans might be slightly disappointed to learn that there is no Roger Spottiswoode commentary (well, this fan is), the new Scream Factory release of Terror Train is still worth the trip. Presented for the first time in its proper aspect ratio (keeping cinematographer John Alcott’s beautiful compositions intact), the film can now be viewed as it was meant to be seen. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a strong performance as Alana, one of several college kids on board a train for a New Year’s Eve masquerade. Unbeknown to the drunken revelers, a killer who dons the costume of each victim is also lurking around in the shadows. This underrated Canadian slasher is both creepy and suspenseful, thanks in large part to the taut direction of Spottiswoode and the moody atmosphere from Kubrick collaborator Alcott. Hart Bochner, Sandee Currie and renowned character actor Ben Johnson all turn in compelling performances.
• Interview With Production Executive Don Carmody, Producer Daniel Grodnik, Production Designer Glenn Bydwell and Composer John Mills-Cockell
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery
Octaman 40th Anniversary (1971) Bayview Entertainment DVD Available Oct. 23
Radiation once again transforms aquatic life into giant destructive monsters. In this case, it’s the melding of man and octopus (not to be confused with the man/catfish combo from Zaat). This rarely seen cult film is best known for the infamous monster suit created (in part) by make-up guru Rick Baker. It was written and directed by Harry Essex, famous for penning both It Came from Outer Space and Creature from the Black Lagoon. This 40th anniversary release also features another obscure Essex film, The Cremators.
Prometheus (2012) 20th Century Fox 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD Now Available
Though it may have lost some narrative cohesion in the editing, Ridley Scott’s (sort-of) Alien prequel is a gorgeous and often thrilling ride. Archeologists Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient maps of the galaxy that they interpret as an invitation to “meet their maker.” Backed by millionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), they travel to a distant planet in an attempt to uncover the meaning of life. What could possibly go wrong? Charlize Theron and a captivating Michael Fassbender co-star.
Dan Curtis’ “Cliffs Notes” version of his beloved soap opera brings vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) back from the grave – again. Featuring several familiar cast members reprising their roles from the soap, including the amazing Grayson Hall (Dr. Julia Hoffman), Louise Edmonds (Roger Collins) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans). Much more enjoyable and far more faithful to the source material than the silly Tim Burton “reimagining” from earlier this year, House of Dark Shadows was released in 1970 and had a great tag line, which catered to the “hip” sensibilities of its intended audience: Come see how the vampires do it!
When actor Jonathan Frid refused to participate in a sequel to the successful House of Dark Shadows, creator Dan Curtis decided to focus on some of the other plot threads from the cult soap. This follow-up features other members of the Collins family and the various ghosts (both real and psychological) that haunt them. The studio notoriously cut over an hour from the final film, rendering much of the narrative incoherent. It may not make much sense, but it's a beautiful little gothic trifle. The screenplay was written by Sam Hall (husband of returning actress Grayson Hall), who also penned the first film and several of the TV episodes. David Selby returns as Quentin Collins along with Hall, Kate Jackson, John Karlen and Lara Parker as that vindictive witch, Angelique.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Criterion Collection Blu-ray & DVD Available October 30th
The classic Roman Polanski thriller finally gets the Criterion treatment. An amazing performance by Mia Farrow grounds this story of paranoia and unrelenting suspense. John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon are equally memorable in supporting roles. Gordon would return in the TV movie sequel, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, which is not recommended by this writer – or anyone else who has seen it. Once again, I’d like to thank producer William Castle for opting out of directing this film...
• New high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New interviews with Polanski, Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans
• Komeda, Komeda: a feature-length documentary on the life and work of jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for Rosemary’s Baby
• 1997 radio interview with author Ira Levin from Leonard Lopate’s WNYC program New York and Company on the 1967 novel, the sequel and the film
• A booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park and Levin’s afterword for the 2003 New American Library edition of his novel, in which he discusses it and the film’s origins
This cheapjack kiddie matinee staple is a far better film than its poor reputation suggests. Director Nicholas Webster’s surreal production has become a true cult favorite in spite of the terrible public domain prints that have circulated for years. Kino Classics is finally releasing a new high definition print along with the original trailer and several holiday-themed extras. Now, everyone can enjoy the debut of little Pia Zadora as depressed Martian child Girmar – in all her green glory.