CATEGORIES DVDs'Easy Rider': 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray cruises into stores, the William Castle Film Collection should make cinefiles drool, and the 'Wings of Desire' Criterion Collection soars.
New Blu-Ray DVD Movie Releases for October 20
'Easy Rider': 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray (1969)
Why the Re-Release? 'Easy Rider,' released in 1969, took the film industry (and pop culture) by storm. It boasted an anti-establishment storyline (two rebels hop on their choppers for a cross-country adventure -- "in search of America" -- that features hippies, communes, free love and various hallucinatory agents); a great rock 'n' roll soundtrack featuring Steppenwolf, The Byrds, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Electric Prunes and Roger McGuinn; a cast including Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson; and it showed Hollywood that a low budget film could make a fortune if it tapped into America's youth consciousness. Sony is re-releasing the classic on its 40th anniversary to take advantage of the market for high-definition films.
New Special Features: A running commentary by Hopper; packaged in a deluxe 32-page graphic booklet with information on the soundtrack, actors and historical significance of the film.
Is It Worth the Upgrade? This Blu-ray edition offers immaculate picture clarity and will do justice to your sound system with it's rousing soundtrack. But if you own either the 30th anniversary or 35th anniversary remastered DVD editions, you might want to sit tight.
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The William Castle Film Collection
What's the Deal? William Castle was a master showman who cut his cinematic teeth on Orson Welles' noir classic "The Lady From Shanghai" and then went on to produce and direct a string of horror films in the 1950s and '60s. His forte: outrageous marketing gimmicks to get kids into movie theaters. For his 1959 'Tingler,' Castle had theaters wire select seats with tiny motors that would vibrate during key scenes. The audience would get a "tingling" sensation and were encouraged to "Scream -- scream for your lives." For '13 Ghosts' (1960), Castle created "Illusion-O," which was a special hand-held piece of cardboard with two transparent colored strips that allowed you to see the ghosts in the film -- "if you dared." And for 'Homicidal' (1961), a voiceover near the climax of the film advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the ending. (He also provided nurses to offer blood-pressure tests in theater lobbies). This boxed set, from Sony, gathers together eight of his films from that era; in addition to the aforementioned there's 'Mr. Sardonicus' (1961), 'Zotz!' (1962), "'The Old Dark House' (1963), '13 Frightened Girls' (1963) and 'Strait-Jacket' (1964) (starring Joan Crawford).
Special Features: Commentaries, alternate sequences; vintage footage; original theatrical trailers; 'Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story' (2007), an acclaimed documentary by director Jeffrey Schwarz; featurettes: 'The Magic of Illusion-O,' 'Psychette: William Castle and Homicidal,' 'Homicidal Youngstown, Ohio Premiere,' 'Battleaxe: The Making of Strait-Jacket,' 'How to Plan a Movie Murder,' 'Scream For Your Lives: William Castle and The Tingler."'
Is It Collection Worthy? This set brings together remastered editions of all of Castle's Columbia films. It's a must for fans of 1960s teenage horror classics and cinema completists. The only drawback: the omission of his first two films, 'Macabre' (1958) and 'House on Haunted Hill' (1959), both of which he made for Allied Artists.
'Wings of Desire' (1987): Wim Wenders' romantic ode to mortal love has received a new high-definition digital transfer for a DVD and Blu-ray release.Bruno Ganz is Damiel, an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams of all the people living below. When he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he decides to give up his immortality to come back to earth to be with her. The film has been called "one of cinema's loveliest city symphonies." Remade in a watered-down U.S. version as 'City of Angels' (1998) with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. (The Criterion Collection).
'Last of the Living' (2009): An enjoyable New Zealand post-apocalyptic zombie flick about three slackers who spend their days lounging around, getting their kicks by killing the living-dead and drifting from one vacant house to another ... until they meet a woman who may have a cure for the virus. Low-budget effects and dialogue add to the amusement factor. (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment).