Blu-ray Today: Boxes of Halloween, Saw and The Exorcist


Halloween: The Complete Collection – Occasionally, very occasionally, a cinematic franchise will come along in which every entry has some merit, enough so that the entire series is worth buying. Almost never is that franchise in the horror genre, as this and some other entries today will show, and it’s certainly not true for Halloween, which defined most of what we think of as the rules of slasher movies, only to keep following them by the numbers.

The first Halloween is a classic; the second an adequate sequel, the third a bonkers and unrelated story that makes no sense whatsoever. 4 and 5 are mediocre, 6 is crap, 7 is an adequate sequel and 8 has Busta Rhymes saying “Trick or treat, motherfucker!” People bag on the two Rob Zombie remakes, but they at least tried to do something different. I stand by my position that a Rob Zombie remake of part 1 was preferable to a Part 9 with more Busta Rhymes.

The network TV edits of the first two movies are included, as is the “producers cut” of part 6 that apparently doesn’t suck…but it seems this may contain only the unrated versions of the Rob Zombie films. Even if it does have both versions of each, this is hardly a “complete collection” – talks are currently in progress to make yet another installment in the series. Frankly, Season of the Witch is the one that could most benefit from a Rob Zombie remake, but I doubt they’ll go that weird way again.

Exorcist: Complete Anthology – Doubly proving my point, this is a horror series where you really don’t need to own more than the first installment, a classic many people will still tell you is the scariest film of all time. Yes, there are two different cuts, but they can be owned on the same disc already. Two misguided prequels that tell the same story different ways, and two sequels that vary from adequate to Worst Ever, depending on who you ask, don’t make the ultimate Catholics vs. Demons movie any better. The only reason to own them all is misguided curiosity, and that should be satisfied by rentals at this stage. Each movie is also available separately.

Saw: The Complete Movie Collection – Here’s how you get people to buy the whole series of films about righteous, ironic traps: 7 movies on 3 discs for less than $30, which is cheaper than buying just 1-3 (the good ones) alone. After the elaborate deathtrap-rigging toymaker John Kramer died in part 3, the subsequent movies tied themselves into knots trying to justify their own continued existence…but at least part VI seized on the zeitgeist and relished in the torment of health insurance executives.

As a completist set, this is disappointing – just the unrated cuts and not a lot of room for new extras. But for the casual fan who just likes some of the movies, it’s a great deal to get you to buy all 7.

Ghost in the Shell 25th Anniversary – As best I can tell, this “anniversary” edition of the anime that inspired The Matrix doesn’t have much more than a new booklet. HERE is a franchise where we could use a complete collection, including the TV series and cinematic sequel. Unless Keanu Reeves wants to front the cash, though, it may not happen for a while.

Attack on Titan Part 2 – More giant naked mutants endanger humanity in this post-apocalyptic anime.

The Signal – One of the year’s best sci-fi movies sees Brenton Thwaites as a hacker following the signal of what he believes to be another hacker…and finding himself in way over his head, and sporting a pair of robotic super-legs in an underground lab. Things get crazier from there, and the Blu-ray has a commentary track that may explain some of it.

Neighbors – This misbegotten comedy pits new parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne against the noisy fratboys next door, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco. What could have been hilarious escalation gets deflated as director Nicholas Stoller steadfastly refuses to take sides – the semi-sympathetic dudebrahs end up becoming more interesting, while the noise victims we’re supposed to relate to keep upping the ante long after they no longer need to. In real-life neighborhood negotiations, this spirit of equality would be admirable, but in a comedy of frustration, it’s a deal-breaker.

I didn’t review it when it came out, because I didn’t feel it was really in our wheelhouse. I still don’t – but just in case you thought it might have some weird, genre-bending redemptive qualities…it doesn’t.

The Rover – After the world ends, don’t steal Guy Pearce’s car. Not unless you want him to kidnap Twilight-dude en route to killing your ass.

Stagefright – 1987 slasher about a killer locked in a theater overnight as the cast of a musical rehearses. Let me guess – he’s a homophobe.

The 100: Season 1 – Years after a nuclear war on Earth, 100 convicts from a space prison are dropped onto the planet’s surfaces. They aren’t expected to survive, but this is a series, after all. Turns out new Earth is more hospitable than expected…but only just. Direct from the source, I’ve learned that you’re supposed to call it “the hundred,” in case you were wondering.

Defiance: Season 2 – At last, a TV show I actually watch! Though I gather the video-game integration element hasn’t amounted to much, I really like the very different world this show has created, in which seven alien races accidentally semi-terraformed Earth, and after a war, things are a bit wild west-like even as humans and aliens alike adapt to the new terrain. There are the arrogant, backstabbing Castathans; the feral biker Irathients; the scheming Indogenes, the giant ape-things, the Ugnaught ripoffs, and the Things Too Expensive to Show on Most Episodes. Season 2 saw Ghostbusters‘ Walter Peck enter the picture as an interspecies crossplayer, and demonstrated the show’s willingness to kill off major characters. It also stopped the annoying tradition of season 1 episodes ending in emo covers of ’90s alt-rock.

Those are my top picks. What are you looking out for?