Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: House of Dark Shadows, Night of Dark Shadows

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Editor’s Note:  1/10/12 This post has been updated with a note about the image.

Today is our final installment of our Halloween Home Entertainment Preview.  Be sure to check out our previous updates for all of the great deals on disc this Halloween season!

The News:

House of Dark Shadows starring Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Joan Bennett will be released on October 30.  Night of Dark Shadows starring David Selby, Lara Parker and Kate Jackson will debut on the same date.

The Views:

Many of you have probably heard that the original films based on the popular supernatural TV series, Dark Shadows, will be coming to DVD and Blu-Ray disc for the first time on October 30.  And while this is great news in and of itself, it isn’t as wonderful as it seems.  While House of Dark Shadows, the more popular of the two movies, is a must-have release for your collection, the release of its sequel, Night of Dark Shadows, is rather disappointing — not because Night is a bad film, but because Warner Bros. has decided not to release it in its fully-restored state.

Night of Dark Shadows was originally a rather lengthy picture, but MGM, the studio that originally released it, had it cut down significantly right before its debut.  What is left of the movie may seem garbled or confusing to many.  But fans still enjoy it for what it is.

For years now, one Darren Gross has been working on intensive restoration efforts for both Dark Shadows films.  And he managed to recover a good amount of lost footage from Night of Dark Shadows in the hopes that it could eventually be released in a form closer to the original vision of Dan Curtis.  For reasons which have not been disclosed, Warner Bros. turned down the project and we are left with the standard release, which, to many is rather confusing and incoherent.  Regardless, it is good to see the film make its disc debut, along with House of Dark Shadows, but it’s upsetting that we won’t get to see all of the hard work put into the restoration.

*Note: The “Ad” image in this post is fan-created.

Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: Pet Sematary, Mad Monster Party, Meet Frankenstein, & More!

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 This week, we have a complete lineup of the “must-have” home entertainment releases of the season.  Check out our round-up below, and return tomorrow for our take on the upcoming release of the original Dark Shadows feature films on Blu-Ray and DVD.

The News:

The 1989 adaptation of the Stephen King classic, Pet Sematary is coming to Blu-Ray on October 2!  The film features Fred Gwynne, best known for portraying the lovable Herman Munster on the classic monster sitcom, The Munsters.  Gwynne’s character is not quite as lovable in this, but his inner-Herman certainly shines through (at times).  Over all, in our opinion, the story is both frightening and compelling, and we don’t think the classic theme by The Ramones can be beat…  Let us know your thoughts.  And read more about the film here.

We also wanted to note that there were a number of Halloween Blu-Ray releases that occurred earlier this month that we didn’t have a chance to cover.  You can check out our round-up below:

The Rankin/Bass animated classic Mad Monster Party was released on Blu-Ray disc for the first time on September 4.  It’s a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, so you will receive both discs if you should decide to pick it up.

The Disney Halloween cult classic Hocus-Pocus was also released on Blu-Ray disc on September 4.  It also comes in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

In addition, yesterday, we mentioned that Meet Frankenstein was not included in the Universal Monsters Blu-Ray collection, but the terrific film is available on Blu-Ray disc.  It came out on August 28, another release in celebration of the Universal Studios centennial.  It stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.  The film follows the comedic duo and their hilarious encounter with Count Dracula, whose sinister plans are thwarted by the Wolf Man and an out-of-control Frankenstein Monster.

You can purchase all of these Blu-Ray releases online, and some of them may pop up in a store near you!  So be on the look-out!

And now we want to know… What are your favorite Halloween films?  Will you be picking them up on Blu-Ray?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

*The pictures on this page are not from any film.   They were taken by THE BIG SCARE.

Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection

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 This week, we have a complete lineup of the “must-have” home entertainment releases of the season.

The News:

Every so often Universal re-releases the classic Monster movies on home video.  A decade ago, they released an “essential collection” on DVD.  Half a decade ago, they re-released the titles and added additional ones in the Legacy Series.  Now, for the first time, the studio is releasing the classic Universal Studios Monsters on Blu-Ray Disc.  The collection features 9 films and eight classic monsters.  The movies featured in this collection are Dracula (1931), Dracula – The Spanish Version (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man (1941), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Phantom of the Opera (1943) and Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Bonus features are included. The eight disc set comes along with a 48 page book featuring behind-the-scenes photographs, and will be released on October 2.  This collection is unique because it features Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D, a first for the Monsters on disc.  It should be interesting to see how that particular feature works when this set is released.  It can be pre-ordered here.

The Views:

So just how good are these movies anyway?

This collection contains nearly all of the greatest monster movies ever made.  From Bride of Frankenstein to Creature from the Black Lagoon, they are almost all here.  The only major ones missing are Phantom of the Opera (1925),  Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Meet Frankenstein (1948).   Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster and Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man are all present; and whether this is your first time seeing them or your ninety-first time, we’re sure you will find yourself chilled to the bone .  We’re a little biased here, but we’re giving most of the films in this collection 5 Electrodes out of 5 Electrodes.  The major exception would be the version of The Phantom of the Opera included in this collection.  It is not the Lon Chaney original.  Rather, it is the remake starring Claude Rains.  And while Rains is fantastic, the rest of the movie is very humdrum — a little too much opera, not enough Phantom.  But the rest of the films are truly essential to the collection of any genre fan.

*The pictures on this page are of the 12″ Figures produced by Sideshow Collectibles and are not from any film.   They were taken by THE BIG SCARE.

Halloween Home Entertainment Preview: Halloween II and III

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Welcome guys and ghouls to another week of thrills, chills, and spills on The Big Scare.  This week, we have a complete lineup of the “must-have” home entertainment releases of the season.

The News:

Don Post Studios Halloween III Silver Shamrock Masks 3 SkullCertainly two of the biggest releases this year are the second and third installments of John Carpenter’s Halloween series.  While both titles have been out on DVD for years, and Halloween II had a bare-bones Blu-Ray release last year, Scream! Factory, a new division of Shout! Factory, will unveil its treatment of these classics tomorrow, September 18.

Not only has Shout! Factory produced some of the finest artwork ever created for a home video release, but both titles come with extras, including audio commentaries, “making of” specials, trailers, and more!

The Views:

So just how good are these movies anyway?

If you haven’t had a chance to see Halloween II, you need to.  It’s a sequel that is definitely worthy of the “Halloween” name, quite unlike later installments which shall not be named here.  While II is not as good as Halloween, and lacks a lot of its predecessor’s subtlety and substance, it manages to evoke many of the same feelings and allows for further commentary on the concept of “evil.”   But what makes it exceptionally memorable is the fact that Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis get to share some screen-time.  This is the last film in the series in which both original stars appear.  And neither talent is wasted.  But it is Pleasance’s character, Sam Loomis, that manages to steal the show.  Halloween II gives the Loomis character the opportunities to achieve depths impossible in the original film, and Pleasance pulls it off brilliantly.  This film gets 3 1/2 skull pumpkins out of 5.

As for Halloween III?  You’ve probably heard some negative things about it, mostly from the biggest fans of Michael Myers.  While the film does lack the illustrious villain, it makes up for his absence with its strong Halloweentime imagery.  Case in point:  The masks.  Need I say more?  Those Don Post masks symbolize this time of year as much as Jack-O’-Lanterns and Candy Buckets.  In addition, there are plenty of other opportunities to spot signs of the season throughout the movie. It’s worth a watch, if only for this reason.  All in all, while the plot is a little far-out, it’s still stronger than a lot of the stories that came out of  1980s Horror.  Halloween III: The Season of the Witch gets 2.5 Don Post Masks out of 5.

If we have managed to pique you interest, you can pick up copies of both films tomorrow or rent them from your favorite video rental service.