My Two Cents

My Two Cents

We’ve got some more new announcements to report today, but first…

Dr. Jahnke’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review of the day is none other than Tim Burton’s updating of Dark Shadows, newly released on Blu-ray by Warner Home Video.

Also, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates & Artwork update with 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 Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

Now then…

Criterion has announced its January Blu-ray and DVD slate, highlighted by the release of Win Wender’s first foray into 3D filmmaking, the documentary Pina, on Blu-ray 3D Combo and DVD (Catalog #644 – due 1/22/2013)! As if that’s not enough, Criterion will also release Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum “in a restored director’s cut never before seen in the United States” (Cat #234 – BD and DVD – 1/15), Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (Cat #643 – BD and DVD – 1/15), Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop (Cat #414 – BD –1/8) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (Cat #397 – BD and DVD – 1/22).

Also today, Disney has set The Odd Life of Timothy Green for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 12/4. Extras will include the Family Roots: Bringing The Odd Life of Timothy Green to the Screen documentary, Glen Hansard’s This Gift music video, the Glen Hansard: Behind This Gift featurette, 5 deleted scenes and commentary with director Peter Hedges.

Lionsgate has set William Friedkin’s Killer Joe for Blu-ray and DVD release on 12/21 (SRP $24.99 and $19.98). The Blu-ray will feature and Unrated Director’s Cut of the film while the DVD will have the NC-17 rated Theatrical Cut. Both will include director’s commentary, 3 featurettes (Southern Fried Hospitality: From Stage to Screen, SXSW Q&A with the Cast and SXSW Intro by William Friedkin) and the “Red Band” theatrical trailer.

[Update: I've just learned that the Blu-ray will be the original NC-17 cut but now labeled "unrated" because most stores will not carry titles listed as NC-17. The DVD on the other hand will be a brand new R-rated cut. Adjust your plans accordingly.]

Shout! Factory has set Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady for BD release on 12/11. Shout! has also set Hazel: The Complete Fourth Season for DVD only release on 12/11.

And Timeless Media Group (a division of Shout!) has something for you spaghetti western fans – a pair of Django! double-feature DVDs including A Man Called Django (1971)/Django and Sartana Showdown in the West (1970) and Django! Cut Price Corpses (1971)/Django Kills Silently (1967). SRP is just $6.95 each. Timeless says they’ll both feature “newly re-mastered prints and all-new bonus features”.

In addition, Synapse will release Chiller: The Complete Television Series as a 2-disc DVD on 12/11 (SRP $29.95). All 5 original U.K. episodes will be included.

Well Go USA has set the Honk Kong action film Wu Dang for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/4 (SRP $29.98 and $24.98). Extras will include a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted and extended scenes and a trailer.

Anchor Bay Entertainment and RADiUS-TWC have set the dark comedy Butter for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/4 ($29.99 and $24.98). Anchor Bay has also set 10 Years for release on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 12/18.

Sony has revealed that Premium Rush (coming to BD and DVD on 12/21) will include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Starting Line: Meet the Cast and Behind the Wheels).

Magnolia Home Entertainment has set Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview for DVD only release on 10/23.

Finally, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Let the Music Play: The Story of the Doobie Brothers for Blu-ray and DVD release on 11/13.

Here’s a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Criterion’s Pina, The Tin Drum and The Man Who Knew Too Much

Pina (Criterion Blu-ray 3D Combo)    The Tin Drum (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)    The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt


Afternoon, folks. Hope you all had a fine weekend. I haven’t had the chance to see Ben Affleck’s Argo yet, but all the word from friends who have is that it’s pretty darned good. Instead, Sarah and I spent time helping get Mom settled into her new home. And then we had an interesting little adventure on Saturday night. Some of you may have heard that the Space Shuttle Endeavour was being driven across Los Angeles to its new home at the California Science Center this weekend. It was supposed to be a quick overnight trip and it turned into a two and a half day marathon. As it happens, on Saturday night the shuttle got stuck at the intersection of Crenshaw and MLK for over six hours. So about 11 PM we decided to drive up from Orange County to get a closer look at it. Many thousands of people were there to do the same – it was almost like an impromptu street carnival. It was pretty cool.

We even took Mom along for the ride - her first big L.A. adventure. Given what a big fan of the space program Dad was, he would have been proud. Here’s a couple pictures Sarah took. You can almost read the small print on the tiles there...

Space Shuttle Endeavour at MLK & Crenshaw in L.A. - 1/13/2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour at MLK & Crenshaw in L.A. - 1/13/2012

All right, down to business. To get things started here today, our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke kicks off this third week of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest with a review of director Roger Spottiswoode’s debut film Terror Train, now available on Blu-ray Disc from the folks at Shout! Factory via their Scream Factory label.

Also today, Tim Salmons has looked at another recent Steven Spielberg film on Blu-ray Disc in the form of Universal’s new E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Anniversary Edition.

Both films are well worth a look on Blu, so we hope you enjoy the reviews.

In announcement news today, Lionsgate has set The Expendables 2 for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/20 (SRP $39.99 and $29.95, respectively). For your money, you’ll get audio commentary with director Simon West, 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes, Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film, On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables and Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables), deleted scenes and a gag reel. The special edition content was produced by our old friend Cliff Stephenson, so it should be pretty cool.

Lionsgate will also release Arbitrage on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/21 (SRP $24.99 and $19.98). Extras will include audio commentary with writer/director Nicholas Jarecki, 2 featurettes (Who Is Robert Miller? and A Glimpse Into Arbitrage) and deleted scenes with optional writer/director commentary.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set Hope Springs for Blu-ray and DVD release on 12/4 (SRP $35.99 and $30.99). Bonus features will include commentary with director David Frankel, 6 featurettes (An Intimate Look at Making Hope Springs, An Expert’s Guide to Everlasting Passion, The Doctor Is In: Steve Carrell on Dr. Feld, Inside the Perfect Marriage: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, The Passionate Performer and Museum of Acting Introduction by Director David Frankel), 4 Museum of Acting Alternate Takes and a gag reel.

In addition, Sony has set Sparkle for BD and DVD release on 11/30, followed by Blue Lagoon: The Awakening on DVD only on 12/18 and Premium Rush on BD and DVD on 12/21.

Sony has also set the sequel to Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth miniseries, World Without End, for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/4 (SRP $75.99 and $65.99). Both will include all 8 episodes on 2 discs along with The Making of Ken Follett’s World Without End documentary.

Meanwhile, Warner and HBO have set Enlightened: The Complete First Season and Game Change each for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/8/2013.

CBS and Paramount have set Perry Mason: The Eighth Season - Volume Two for DVD only release on 1/15/2013.

Image Entertainment has announced a number of interesting new and catalog Blu-ray releases. Look for Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer and Stephen Sondheim’s Company on 11/13, the Frank Sinatra film Suddenly on 12/4, Miami Connection on 12/11, All Superheroes Must Die on 1/1/2013 and Lightning Bug and Wake in Fright on 1/15/2013.

And PBS has set Downton Abbey: Season 3 for Blu-ray and DVD release on 1/29/2013 (SRP $54.99 and $49.99). The new season is currently airing in the U.K. and starts running on PBS’ Masterpiece Classics on 1/6/2013.

In other news today, a number of readers are reporting problems with Fox’s Prometheus Blu-ray. Throughout the second half of the film, some copies are plagued with macro-blocking and will occasionally cause players to simply shut down. It appears to be a manufacturing error and isn’t affecting all copies, so if you’re having trouble we recommend you exchange it with your retailer. You can also contact Fox Customer Care at 1-888-223-4369.

Finally today, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of cinematographer Harris Savides, who helped pioneer digital cinema with his work on David Fincher’s Zodiac. He also shot Ridley Scott’s American Gangster and Gus Van Sant’s Milk among others. He was just 55. Also, actor Gary Collins has died at the age of 74. Collins was master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant and the host of Hour Magazine and The Home Show. He also appeared in guest roles on many TV series in the 1970s and 80s. Both will be missed.

Here’s a look at the Blu-ray Disc cover artwork for Lionsgate’s The Expendables 2, Warner’s The Jazz Singer (due 1/8), Sony’s Hope Springs and The World Without End, Universal’s temp art for ParaNorman (11/27) and PBS’ Downton Abbey: Season 3

The Expendables 2 (Blu-ray Disc)    The Jazz Singer (1927 - Blu-ray Disc)    Hope Springs (Blu-ray Disc)

World Without End (Blu-ray Disc)    ParaNorman (Temp art - Blu-ray Disc)    Downton Abbeys: Season 3 (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend and stay tuned.

- Bill Hunt


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


Bits Latest Tweets

Amazon deal heads-up: Looney Tunes: Platinum Collection V1 is just $14.99 today on Blu-ray (50% off). Act fast! fb.me/1ky5Jseze
The Expanse: S2, Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 4K, Scream’s Teen Wolf: CE & James Gunn is pushing for Disney to... fb.me/1n6OVme0w
Re-Animator, Prison Break, Mission Control, Heat: Director’s Cut for just $8 & Jonathan Demme RIP fb.me/3CJzxEGop