DVDs-SciFi-Horror

Alien Legacy
If you don’t already have the DVD versions of Alien and Aliens this is a good deal because the price is pretty good for the four movies. But the first two have not been changed so unless you are interested in the weaker sequels don’t bother with this package. One note however – if you buy the box set, you will have the opportunity to send for a special “behind the scenes” disc. This might be interesting to collectors. As to the discs, the really good stuff is found on the the first two films. “Alien” includes some famous deleted scenes, commentary by Ridley Scott and a rarity in home video regarding the music. There are many instances where a composer’s work has been changed or even removed from a film. “Alien” was an important score by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith. However it seems that Scott had preferred to use some music from the “temp track:” which included classical excerpts and even music from an old Goldsmith score from the film “Freud”.

It is to his enormous credit that this DVD allows us to hear the music score as it was theatrically released or choose to hear Jerry Goldsmith’s original compositions. Not many directors have done this and it’s clear from the commentary that while he felt the need to make changes in the score, he still holds respect for Goldsmith. Unfortunately, the same problem occurred with Goldsmith’s score for Scott’s “Legend” being replaced with music by Tangerine Dream. Maybe third time will be the charm. “Aliens” features some behind the scenes footage and an interview with James Cameron. “Alien” and “Alien 3” have “easter eggs”.

E.T. Box Sets
One of the most beloved films of all time “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” comes to DVD in a three disc set for a limited time only. This “Collector’s Gift Set” includes the original 1982 version, the recent digitally changed re-issue, the CD soundtrack, the script for the original film, a senitype and 10 hours of extras. There is a feature on the reunion of the cast, a 3-D journey through the Solar System and a visit with composer John Williams including an isolated live music score. A less expensive 2-disc set featuring Mr.Spielberg’s controversial digital fixes will also be available and the film can viewed widescreen or fullscreen.

I know Steven Spielberg has said that he made the changes because he was always troubled by the version previously released. Nevertheless, that is the version the world fell in love with and it’s to his credit that he is making both versions available. Remember, these releases are for a “limited time” only-ten weeks! (from mid October 2002 to years end)

From Dusk Till Dawn – Dimension Collector’s Series

What is this? A ganster-vampire movie, a black cowboy comedy with vampires? Who knows-who cares. It’s a hell of a ride as the Gecko brothers take time out from their crime spree to enjoy the action in a Mexican bar which turns out to be full of vampires! George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayak, Cheech Marin and Fred Williamson star in this cult fave. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital but the widescreen has NOT been anamorphically enhanced-too bad. It still looks good though and the disc is a hoot-a funny, gory comic book. The extras include a commentary track with Quentin Tarantino and Richard Rodriguez. These guys are great buddies and they have a lot of fun talking about the film. If only all commentaries were like this!

There are featurettes called “Hollywood Goes To Hell” and “The Art Of Making The Movie” and some hilarious outtakes and bloopers with Clooney flubbing his lines and cursing a blue streak.The real bonus here is the inclusion of a FEATURE LENGTH documentary called “Full Tilt Boogie”. This terrific film documents the making of “From Dusk Till Dawn” with all the problems of fire, weather and the unions. Depending on your tastes you may find the documentary the better of the two films. “Full Tilt Boogie” is available as a separate purchase but this 2 for 1 deal is the way to go. Don’t say you’ve got nothing to watch on a Saturday night if you haven’t seen these two.

Jurassic Park & Lost World Limited Collector’s Box Set
This may be hard to find now but if you track it down here’s what you’ll get. “Jurassic Park” and its sequel “The Lost World” both directed by Steven Spielberg. Both films can be purchased separately but in this package are a few special extras: the CD soundtracks to both films, a certificate of authenticity and a senitype (film strip). The extras on the discs are the same as on the original releases in the 5.1 Dolby Digital version. Spielberg debuted DTS audio with the theatrical release of “Jurassic Park” but apparently the DTS DVD required extra space which meant the documentary and other extras were eliminated. So, no DTS on the box set. Is the DTS audio worth the loss of the extras? You decide.

Planet Of The Apes Box Set
This package has all five films in the theatrical series starting with the classic with Charlton Heston and featuring the legendary music score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Roddy McDowell in probably his most famous roles as both Cornelius and his son Caesar is the continuing thread throughout and he is terrific. McDowell also hosted the two-hour documentary on the “Planet of the Apes” phenomenon which was shown on the AMC cable channel. He completed this shortly before he passed away. The film not only gives us background on the technical aspects of the films but also their importance as social barometers.

This documentary is included in the package as well as a still photo gallery. The films are in the widescreen format but they have NOT been anamorphically transferred. The much reduced picture resolution hurts the overall enjoyment of the films and perhaps 20th Century Fox will fix this in the future. As for now, a partial recommendation-it’s better than the old laserdiscs and way better than VHS but this could have been much better. Was Charlton Heston asked to do a commentary? What does he think about “Planet Of The Apes”? It would be nice to know.

Star Wars: Episode II: The Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars fans beat their drums for a long time hoping George Lucas would release his grip on the films and approve DVD releases. While we all still wait for the first three theatrical films (Episodes 4, 5, and 6) even moderate fans were impressed with the DVD of Episode One. It didn’t matter if you liked the film or not, the DVD was an amazing display of picture, sound and special features. I suppose that the folks at Lucasfilm felt that if we, as fans, were patient, we would be rewarded. Now with the release of Episode II: The Attack Of The Clones, the feast for fans continues. This DVD will not only test your home theatre system but it will set a standard for all DVD producers in the future.

One of the highlights of the Episode One DVD was the wonderful behind-the-scenes stuff (arguably better than the actual film) and this continues on “The Clones”. Lucas has long said that sound design represents a huge part of a film’s impact and mood. Now we get a step-by-step education in the process of building sound effects, dialog, and music into a thrilling motion picture soundtrack. Some carryovers from the extras on Episode One include commentaries, web documentaries, music videos etc. which will keep you busy for days. The really nice thing about the Star Wars DVDs is that the best is yet to come.

X-MEN
This is a fun movie and a terrific disc. Most fans seemed pleased with “X-Men”, it had all the elements rare for comic book adaptations. Great cast, good script and a budget which allowed for the look and feel necessary for the general public to lose themselves in a world of super-mutants and super villains. The 20th Century Fox DVD looks good and sounds very good. A kind of high-tech noir look in some scenes comes across very well. The film was directed by Brian Singer who has spoken in the past about another version of this film coming out.

It’s well known that over 40 minutes were cut from the film and while the DVD has some deleted footage, there is still a lot missing. What remains are 6 scenes which you can “put back” into the film through the “seemless branching'” option, a Fox TV promo special, clips of The Charlie Rose interview with the director, character and costume sketches, screen tests, animatics and a classic “easter egg”. “X-Men” can be enjoyed by a wide audience and looks like we’ll be seeing more of the mutants as sequels are in the works. On another note, isn’t it great that Ian McKellen has been “discovered” by the general (meaning young) audience!