CATEGORIES DVDs

It's remake time on the home theater front this week as 'The Karate Kid' and 'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' two classic films from 1984, come to the fore. Some people get riled up about remakes -- enough, they say -- but remakes have been around since the beginning of cinema. There were silent film remakes of silent films, 1930s remakes of 1920s silents, 1940s remakes of 1930s hits, and on and on. You get the picture. If the remake is good, we get overjoyed. If not, we curse them all. 'Karate Kid' falls into the first category: It's a pretty good take on the original that stands by itself as a success. 'Nightmare' is only passable, however; it just doesn't give us that extra jolt we got from the first one. Once past the remakes, there's something original and special: 'Splice,' a sci-fi horror film that will keep you glued to your seat. Enjoy.

'The Karate Kid'
What It's About: A remake and update of the 1984 film that introduced karate to the PG moviegoing masses. Jaden Smith stars as the 12-year-old "karate kid" who moves from Detroit to Beijing with his mother and finds himself the outcast in school and at the mercy of a group of smug kung fu bullies. With no father-figure to guide him, the boy gets help from a local handyman (Jackie Chan), who turns out to be a closet martial arts master.

It's Kinda Like:
'The Katate Kind' (1984) with a bigger budget

What We Say:
Despite its long running time (140 minutes) this remake does justice to the original -- and ups the ante with strong acting by Smith and Chan, great locations and better choreographed fight scenes. As with the original, it's an underdog "revenge" flick that gets your dander up and your adrenalin flowing. Which is what it's all about. Needless to say, it's a worldwide favorite, grossing more than $354 million.
• Extras: The DVD offers a behind-the scenes featurette and interactive Chinese lessons; the Blu-ray adds an alternate ending and an interactive map of China.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue


'Splice'
What It's About: Here's a pleasant surpise: A thinking person's sci-fi/horror film. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are a pair of celebrity scientists at the forefront of gene-splicing research -- a kind of DNA mash-up -- where they create new animal forms that can be used as the basis for wonder drugs. But they decide to go one step further and splice human and animal genes, creating a strange creature -- half-human, half-animal -- with attributes that alternately scare and transfix them. Should Dren (as she's named) be treated as a child or a monster?

It's Kinda Like: 'Frankenstein' meets 'Alien'

What We Say: Writer-director Vincenzo Natali -- who fancies himself somewhat of a cinematic maverick, having directed the very strange 'Cube' and 'Nothing' -- here disturbingly, but at times with tongue-in-check -- explores the act of creation, love, and the extent to which humans should -- or should not -- act as Gods. Natali doesn't just want to entertain, he wants to entertain while making you think. And he does that -- with plenty of scares thrown in for good measure -- on 'Splice.'
• Extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have a fairly good behind-the-scenes featurette that gives you insights into the director and his film.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue


'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

What It's About: Here's another remake. A remake of another 1984 film. A remake of a horror film. A remake of a 1984 horror film that broke new ground and set new standards for horror filmmaking. Once again the kids of Elm Street get their dreams invaded by a vengeful killer, and we get to watch all the gore again, but with better special effects.

It's Kinda Like: 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984) on hallucinogens

What We Say:
Direcor Samuel Bayer remakes Wes Craven's masterpiece, casting the creepy Jackie Earle Haley in the Freddy Krueger role made famous by Robert Englund. There's not much to complain about, but not much to get excited about, either.
• Extras: The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and the Blu-ray adds alternate scenes and a picture-in-picture "Maniacal Movie Mode."
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue


Other New October 5 DVD Releases:
'Elvis & Anabelle'
'The Human Centipede'
'Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection'
'The Oxford Murders'
'The Secret of Kells'
'The Slumber Party Massacre Collection Special Edition
'Troll 2'
'Woke Up Dead'

New on Blu-ray October 5:
'Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition'
'The Exorcist'-- Watch an exclusive clip from the DVD!
'Grindhouse'
'The Maltese Falcon'
'Mad Max'
'Ocean's Eleven'
RoboCop Trilogy'
'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre'

Check out other new October 5 DVD releases at OnVideo.