This week’s home video releases include the Blu-ray debut of an animated classic and an update of a groundbreaking horror film.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
2½ stars (out of four)
Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language
New Line Cinema
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand
Since writer-director Wes Craven introduced viewers to Freddy Krueger in 1984, the character has become a horror icon. Even folks who don’t go for scary movies can probably tell you a thing or two about the horribly scarred villain who invades people’s dreams then mercilessly carves them apart with his glove made of knives.
Craven’s original movie was scary and it not only became a blockbuster hit, it had tremendous influence on the horror genre. Apparently, that’s why producer Michael Bay and friends decided it was time for a remake … even after seven sequels, including a “Friday the 13th” crossover film.
The new “Nightmare,” directed by Samuel Bayer, has its fair share of scares, and there’s a decent amount of blood and gore for folks who like that sort of thing. What it doesn’t have is an original idea.
As with Craven’s first movie, “Nightmare” 2010 centers on a group of teens who discover that Krueger is stalking them in their dreams. Terrifyingly, any physical harm that befalls them in those dreams also comes to pass in the real world. As in the first movie, the body count rises as the plot progresses, and two of the teens – Quentin Smith (Kyle Gallner) and Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara) – discover that all of Freddy’s victims have something in common. As viewers get clued in, they learn a thing or two about Freddy’s past.
In an appealing casting choice, Bayer plugged Jackie Earle Haley into the Freddy role. Haley is a fine actor who does a nice job, but the Krueger character is so operatic and over the top that there’s not much room for subtlety. For an even better Haley performance, check out his Oscar-nominated turn in 2006’s “Little Children.”
Ultimately, “Nightmare” 2010 is a decently crafted slasher film. The problem is, it’s unnecessary. Craven’s original hit all the same notes back when they were still fresh and exciting.
The movie is available as part of multiple home video releases, including a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Extra features vary.
Beauty and the Beast
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Disney’s 1991 take on “Beauty and the Beast” is one of only two animated films ever to receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture. That’s because it’s not just a great animated work. It’s a great film period, and it’s making its Blu-ray debut this week.
Directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, the picture puts a Disney spin on the classic fable about a beautiful woman who falls in love with a hideous beast. In this version, the woman is Belle, a bookish sort who stumbles upon the beast’s castle after her father goes missing. Sadly, beast has taken her father captive, but he promises to let him go if Belle stays behind in his place. She agrees.
Wise and Trousdale tell the story efficiently, allowing viewers to invest in the characters while enjoying a wonderful collection of original songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The animation is the old-school, hand-drawn sort but it still feels fresh and lively, and it looks terrific on high-definition Blu-ray.
Disney typically rolls its top titles to video for only short periods, then returns them to its vaults. Because of that, “Beauty” hasn’t been available in any form since 2003. The release that’s coming out this week is a three-disc set featuring digitally restored Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film plus a host of extra features.
Folks who don’t want to make the jump to Blu-ray will have the option to by a DVD-only copy of the film, but Disney won’t be releasing that until November 23.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
“Splice”: Science-fiction/horror film about genetic scientists (Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley) who merge human and animal DNA and create a creature with remarkable physical and intellectual traits. Directed by Vincenzo Natali.
“The Karate Kid”: Remake of director John G. Avildsen’s 1984 film about a boy who learns about life through martial arts lessons. In the ’80s, it was Ralph Macchio who played the youngster. This time it’s Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson also star.
“Dr. Who – Dreamland”: Animated take on the Dr. Who science-fiction series. Never before seen in the U.S., this family-friendly offering takes the Tenth Doctor to Area 51 where he confronts a new alien race.
“The Human Centipede”: If “Splice” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” don’t satiate your appetite for horror this week, you might give this twisted indie film a go. The plot centers on two American girls who break down in Germany and find themselves at the heart of a maniacal doctor’s plan to surgically attach a group of people, creating a “new” creature. Directed by Tom Six.
Lionsgate indies on Blu-ray: Lionsgate is giving a nice collection of independent films their Blu-ray debuts this week. The titles include “Hard Candy” starring Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson, “Bad Lieutenant” with Harvey Keitel, “Secretary” with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal and “Wonderland” with Val Kilmer, Josh Lucas and Lisa Kudrow.
“Baseball – The Tenth Inning”: This Ken Burns documentary is something of an update to the filmmaker’s Emmy Award-winning 1994 collection, “Baseball.” That early documentary series was 18½ hours long. This one is a more manageable four hours, and it considers the last 17 years of the sport.
Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Shout! Factory is trotting out two more entries to its Roger Corman’s Cult Classics series. The first is “The Slumber Party Massacre” Collection, which includes all three of Corman’s “Slumber Party” films. The second release is a double feature disc containing “The Evil” (1978) and “Twice Dead” (1988).
Humphrey Bogart – The Essential Collection: This boxed set is a Bogart fan’s dream, as it collects 24 of the actor’s movies on 12 discs. Included are: “The Petrified Forest,” “Marked Woman,” “Kid Galahad,” “Black Legion,” “San Quentin,” “The Roaring Twenties,” “Dark Victory,” “Virginia City,” “The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse,” “Invisible Stripes,” “High Sierra,” “They Drive By Night,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Across the Pacific,” “All Through the Night,” “Brother Orchid,” “Action in the North Atlantic,” “Passage to Marseille,” “To Have and Have Not,” “The Big Sleep,” “Dark Passage,” “Key Largo,” “Casablanca” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. For more of his work visit http://www.ForrestHartman.com. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com.