Best of the new releases: The Crazies
Remakes are usually dangerous territory, what with the trampling of classics and the many duds that so often result from such endeavors. But they're not all bad, as the occasional gem can be found when fresh eyes find new ways to tell old stories. John Carpenter's The Thing is perhaps the best and most oft referenced example; the fact that it is based on some part on the Howard Hawks film The Thing From Another World is a somewhat trivial detail about an outstanding film, certainly one of the best from it's director and genre, probably one of the best on any scale. In any event, despite the current proliferation of seemingly arbitrary remakes, the idea of going back to a previous work isn't always a bad thing and, in certain cases, can lead to a fine film.
Romero's original version of The Crazies is a methodically-paced film about the potential consequences of generalized decision-making based on chain-of-command, governmental oversight, and military obedience. It focuses almost entirely on the military operation and puts a lot of effort into questioning the morality and rationality of decisions made in crisis. As such, it's quite frankly a pretty dull affair. But it does have a great premise, if not an entirely original one. The idea of friends and neighbors suddenly turning on each other in a relatively calm and collected murderous rage is terrifying. Thankfully, the remake of The Crazies exploits that fear to great effect. It stumbles a bit and bogs down towards the end, but overall it's an enjoyable film with strong performances from both Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson Do yourself a favor and check it out soon.
Best of the Catalog Releases: Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition
With the release of the new Predators film looming, it seems only natural that Fox would choose to double dip, releasing a new version of the original Predator on Blu-ray. Dubbed the Ultimate Hunter Edition, this new disc comes with a new, rather controversial transfer. It appears the folks at Fox didn't like some of the high grain film stocks used and slathered many scenes with DNR, which eliminates grain that should be present and gives many things, in particular skin, a waxy, unnatural appearance. I haven't seen the new transfer for myself, but there's been plenty of talk about it in disc reviews. I wouldn't be surprised to see Fox take another pass at it and release a third Blu-ray version of the original to coincide with the home video release of Predators. Transfer aside, the original release was pretty bare bones with the theatrical trailer as the lone special feature. The new release does at least boast some bonus content including several featurettes as well as an audio commentary with director John McTiernan. It may not truly be the ultimate edition, but it's nice to see the original Predator getting the love it deserves.
Complete list of Horror Releases for the week of June 29th:
The Crazies - DVD and Blu-ray
Predator - DVD and Blu-ray
Salvage - DVD - British creature feature from last year's Fantastic Fest.
SuicideGirls Must Die! - DVD - yes, this exists.
We'll be back with the releases for July 6th!