DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD
Fans of gore, horror and David Cronenberg will appreciate The Criterion Collection’s release of the director’s “The Brood” (1979), starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle. As in most of Cronenberg’s early and middle films, his scenario revolves around body horror (bodily transformation and infection, generally created by the efforts of scientists to modify the body for either evil or misguided reasons) and the failings of psychologists to heal fragile minds. In “The Brood,” a disturbed woman (Eggar) is receiving a radical form of psychotherapy by an egotistical psychiatrist (Reed) at a remote, mysterious institute: his method is to force patients to let go of their suppressed anger through physiological changes to their bodies. When her mother, father and 5-year-old daughter — under the care of her estranged husband — are attacked by a group of demonic beings, all the evidence points to the doctor and his strange practice. “The Brood” and Cronenberg’s previous two outings (“Shivers,” 1975 and “Rabid,” 1977) laid the strong foundation for a skein of horror films that play upon the mind/body connection: “Scanners” (1981), “Videodrome” (1983), “The Fly” (1986), “Dead Ringers” (1988), “Naked Lunch” (1991), “Crash” (1996) and “eXistenZ” (1999). On DVD and Blu-ray in a new, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by Cronenberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new documentary about the making of the film and Cronenberg’s early work, featuring actor Samantha Eggar, producer Pierre David, cinematographer Mark Irwin, assistant director John Board, and special makeup effects artists Rick Baker (“Videodrome”) and Joe Blasco (“Shivers” and “Rabid”); a new, restored 2K digital transfer of” Crimes of the Future,” a 1970 feature by Cronenberg, supervised by the director, plus a 2011 interview in which the director discusses his early films with Fangoria editor Chris Alexander; and an essay by critic Carrie Rickey.
One of our favorite TV series from the 1960s (along with “Danger Man” and “The Avengers”) was “The Saint” — aka Simon Templar — a debonair rogue and wealthy man of mystery who was a kind of a combination modern day Robin Hood and Equalizer, who could outwit both the police and the villains while winning the heart of every pretty woman who crossed his path. Since his creation by Leslie Charteris in 1928, The Saint has thrilled adventure aficionados with his exploits in a variety of media, including novels, movies, and radio: but nowhere was the dashing Templar more indelibly realized than in his 1960s television series, starring the perfectly cast Roger Moore in the title role. “The Saint: Seasons 1 & 2” (1962-64) set the stage for what would become a six season run on television, and paved the way for the dashing Roger Moore to take on the role of an even more famous man of action later in his career. With guest starring appearances by such notables as Oliver Reed, Academy Award-winning actress Julie Christie and a pair of beauties from the spy classic “Goldfinger” (Honor Blackman and Shirley Eaton), these B&W episodes of “The Saint” have a freshness that latter color episodes, when the series took itself a bit too seriously, lack. In a 10-disc set with all 39 heavenly episodes. From Shout! Factory/Timeless Media.
Disney has pulled another one of its modern classic animated features from the vault and it’s one that has truly weathered the test of time: “Aladdin.” The film joins “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King” from the Disney Renaissance in getting the Diamond treatment, meaning Blu-ray release. The last home theater release of the long-out-of-print “Aladdin” was a Platinum DVD way back on Oct. 5 2004, so this one has been a long-time coming. The release is configured as a DVD + Digital Copy + Blu-Ray + Disney Movies Anywhere edition. According to the Disney Wiki, “Aladdin” is the 31st animated feature in the Disney Animated Canon, and the fourth entry in the Disney Renaissance, made and produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and released on November 11, 1992 by Walt Disney Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. It was released at the peak stretch of the Disney renaissance era beginning with “The Little Mermaid” and was the most successful film of 1992, with more than $217 million in domestic revenue and over $534 million worldwide. It was produced and directed by Ron Clements & John Musker. The original songs were written by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman and Menken & Tim Rice after Ashman’s death. Menken received the 1992 Academy Award for Original Music Score and Rice and Menken got an Oscar for the now-classic song “A Whole New World.” Watching the film today was even more enjoyable than we remember back in 1992 — it’s a fun ride that reminds me of “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924) in its joyfulness and playfulness; the Blu-ray has crisper color and a more immersive soundtrack than the Platinum DVD. Get this now since one never knows when the Disney animations will go out of print — as have “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.”