5.17.2011: What To Watch – DVD/Blu-ray Releases

We’re returning to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with a little mix of the present (if you don’t know that it’s the 21st century then DVDs & Blu-rays mean nothing to you) in this week’s releases of DVDs & Blu-ray.  Just be prepared for a bit of everything from an influential French horror classic to a freshman’s (or is it freshwoman’s?) worst nightmare besides gaining the Freshman 15.

The Bionic Woman: Season Two (1976) on DVD

Starring Lindsay Wagner (Warehouse 13 [tv]), Richard Anderson (Fantasy Island [tv]) and Martin E. Brooks (Hunter [tv]).

After a welcome October release of the first season, The Bionic Woman: Season Two is debuting on DVD.  The most successful season of a three season run (it was more like two and a half seasons as it was a mid-season replacement on ABC) with Wagner winning the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1977 for the two-part episode “Deadly Ringer.”  British actress Michelle Ryan was cast as a 2007 version of the Bionic Woman but the series was short-lived with only eight episodes.

Synopsis:  She can jump to the top of high buildings, single-handedly battle vicious thugs, run down high-speed vehicles and hear top-secret codes.  She’s The Bionic Woman…and she’s back for more thrilling adventures.  With only brief interactions with her former love, Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin (Lee Majors), Jaime Sommers (Wagner) is on her own to test the limits of her incredible state-of-the-art bionic limbs.  But with the secretive Office of Scientific Investigations sending her on increasingly dangerous and deadly covert missions, will she survive long enough to realize her full potential as the world’s first female cyborg?  It’s non-stop action and excitement as Jaime battles enemy foreign agents, hostile extraterrestrials and the fembots in 24 extraordinary episodes including two crossover episodes with The Six Million Dollar Man!  courtesy of Amazon.com

Diabolique: The Criterion Collection (1955) on DVD and Blu-ray

Starring Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot and Paul Meurisse.  Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Les Diaboliques (the original title), based on Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac’s novel, Celle qui n’était plus (She Who Was No More), is a black-and-white that won the award for best foreign film at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 1955 and was ranked #49 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.  Director Clouzot, the husband of star Véra Clouzot, purchased the rights to the book from under Alfred Hitchcock whose film, Psycho, was influenced by Diabolique.  In 1996, Sharon Stone starred in a remake of the film with Isabelle Adjani, Chazz Palminteri and Kathy Bates.

Synopsis:  Christina (Clouzot), the sickly wife of callous headmaster Michel (Meurisse) of a provincial boarding school and the headmaster’s mistreated mistress, Nicole (Signoret), together plot and carry out his murder, a brutal drowning.  The corpse disappears and a nosy detective starts sniffing around the grounds as threatening notes taunt the women.  courtesy of Amazon.com

The Rite (2011) on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy

Starring Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal, Thor), Colin O’Donoghue (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Rome [tv]), Ciarán Hinds (The Tudors [tv]) and Alice Braga (I Am Legend, Predators).  Directed by Mikael Håfström (1408, Derailed).

The Rite is based on The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio who was in the middle of writing the book when the rights were purchased by Contrafilm Studios (The Exorcism of Emily Rose).  The Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack includes an alternate ending.

Synopsis:  Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins) is a veteran exorcist who shows a novice the tricks of the trade, so to speak.  Michael Kovak (O’Donoghue) is the new-minted priest with a truckload of familial baggage (as a boy, his father Istvan (Rutger Hauer) showed him his mother’s corpse shortly before preparation in the family’s funeral business) and a sincere crisis of faith.  His adviser, Father Xavian (Hinds), ships him off to Rome where he studies under Father Trevant who treats the dismissal of evil forces like a not particularly strenuous therapy session.  But when young pregnant Alice (Braga) turns up with a nasty case of the Devil inside, the tables are quickly turned, and Kovak is forced to ply his training in an actual confrontation with demonic forces. courtesy of http://theritemovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/

The Roommate (2011) on DVD and Blu-ray

Starring Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights [tv], Parenthood [tv]), Leighton Meester (Country Strong, Gossip Girl [tv]) and Cam Gigandet (Priest, Twilight).  Directed by Christian E. Christiansen.

The Roommate is yet another version of 1992’s Single White Female but set in college only without the original’s success or suspense.  Originally, Meester was to play good girl Sara but ended up as bad girl Rebecca after being replaced by Kelly.  It ended up being a better fit for Meester as she received praise from critics like the Los Angeles Times.

Synopsis:  She’s cute.  She’s loyal.  She’s psychotic.  And, unfortunately for college freshman Sara (Kelly), she’s The Roommate.  When Sara arrives at school, she finds new romance with Stephen (Gigandet) and forms a fast friendship with her roommate Rebecca (Meester).  What begins as camaraderie soon turns creepy, and Sara comes face-to-face with the terrifying realization that her new best friend is obsessive, unbalanced…and maybe even a killer!  courtesy of Amazon.com

Thor: Tales of Asgard (2011) on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Voice work by Matthew Wolf, Rick Gomez and Jay Brazeau.  Directed by Sam Liu (The Batman [tv]).

Thor: Tales of Asgard is an animated feature from Marvel and its release coincides with Kenneth Brannagh’s Thor which has been #1 at the box office for the past two weeks.  It is an animated prequel to the live-action movie and therefore, Thor is without Mjolnir.

Synopsis:  Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer…fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms.  Places of dark mists and fiery voids.  Of winged creatures and giants in the ice.  And of the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur.  Hungry for adventure, Thor (Wolf) secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki (Gomez), whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travelers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous.  But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.  courtesy of Amazon.com

The Twilight Zone: Season 4 (1963) on Blu-ray

Starring Rod Serling, Ann Jillian (Jennifer Slept Here [tv], The New Scooby-Doo Movies [tv]), Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet, Honey West), Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk [tv], My Favorite Martian [tv]) and Burgess Meredith (Rocky I, II, III, V).

After being bumped from the fall tv schedule in1962, The Twilight Zone: Season 4 replaced its replacement mid-season.  Episodes had to be stretched to one hour in order to fill the time slot.

Episodes:  In His Image, The Thirty Fathom Grave, Valley of the Shadow, He’s Alive, Mute, Death Ship, Jess-Belle, Miniature, Printer’s Devil, No Time Like the Past, The Parallel, I Dream of Genie, The New Exhibit, Of Late I Think of Cliffordville, The Incredible World of Horace Ford, On Thursday We Leave for Home, Passage on the Lady Anne, The Bard

Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) on DVD and Blu-ray

Starring Hayden Christensen (Jumper, Star Wars: Episodes I, II, III), Thandie Newton (2012, Mission: Impossible II) and John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Spawn).  Directed by Brad Anderson (Fringe [tv], The Machinist).

Tapping into the universal fear of the dark, Vanishing on 7th Street was only able to gross $221,870 worldwide, barely even 2% of its total budget of $10 million.

Synopsis:  An unexplained blackout descends on the city of Detroit and by the time the sun rises, only a few people remain – surrounded by heaps of empty clothing, abandoned cars and lengthening shadows.  Luke (Christensen), a television reporter, finds the streets outside his apartment building eerily empty.  Paul (Leguizamo), a film projectionist, is alone in a once crowded theater.  Physical therapist Rosemary (Newton) steps out for a smoke and returns to a deserted hospital, and James (Jacob Latimore), a frightened boy, waits patiently for his mother to return.  They each find their way to a rundown bar, whose gasoline-powered generator and stockpile of food and drink make it the last refuge in a deserted city.  With daylight beginning to disappear completely and whispering shadows surrounding the survivors, Luke discovers that another pocket of people may be holed up as nearby as Chicago.  He combs the city for a working vehicle that will get them all there, but Rosemary is engulfed in grief for her lost infant, James won’t leave without his mother and Paul may be too injured to travel.  As time begins to run out for them, darkness closes in and they must face the ultimate terror.

Feed me at sharon@horrorhaven.com

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