Arts & Entertainment
Screen Queen: Halloween Edition
By Chris Azzopardi
Originally printed 10/24/2013 (Issue 2143 - Between The Lines News)
Chucky: The Complete Collection
Dolls used to be disposable. Toss 'em, sell 'em, give 'em to Goodwill. Not Chucky. The little ginger shit just won't go away. A quarter-century after "Child's Play" made a very convincing argument that those cuddly Cabbage Patch Kids may not be so cuddly, the horror icon demonstrates that nothing - decapitation, combustion, bad sequels - can keep him away from preying on little kids' souls. And so we have "The Curse of Chucky," the sixth installment in this franchise box set and the first to go direct to disc. That it's a high point for the saga - maybe even the best - says a lot about filmmaker's Don Mancini's passion to please the fans by making Chucky your worst nightmare again. "Curse," where the savage plaything ties up some loose ends, is a maniacal nightmare, but also, and to Mancini's credit, a slick and stylish dovetail to the original. If he was a jokey goof after the campy-fun "Bride of Chucky" and campy-crappy "Seed of Chucky," now, the "Good Guy" returns to remind you that no one toys around with this pint-sized punk. Well, except for maybe one person (after the credits, you'll see who's back for a killer epilogue). The rest of this Blu-ray collection includes both "Seed" and "Bride" (look for John Waters, Alexis Arquette, Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Tilly) and the trio of "Child's Play"-titled films. Most of the extras, and there's a fair share, are either DVD hold-over commentaries or related to recent installments: the making of "Curse," bringing this mean mofo to life, lots of Tilly and "The Chucky Legacy." Chucky wants to play. Do so if you dare.
This Is the End
If you witnessed the drabness of "The Road," you know one thing: The world ending ain't all that funny. Everything and everyone everywhere dies. And life looks a lot like the saddest Instagram filter. That's some bleak stuff. But it doesn't have to be. It can be effing hilarious if it's happening to James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and a pretty cool bunch of other comic gods and Hollywood hotshots who all play exaggerated almost-cartoon versions of themselves. An outrageous, gut-busting gas, the apocalyptic bro comedy runs with the most basic of premises - Judgment Day crashes a Franco party and takes Rihanna, etc. into the pits of hell - and has ghastly gore, a "Rosemary's Baby"-inspired homo-demonic takeover, canoodling, cannibalism, a Whitney Houston song and, in a wet-dream-making cameo, an A-list actor leashed, thonged and on all fours. And because you can't have a Franco film without a trace of gayness, "This Is the End" - written by Rogen and co-screenwriter/co-director Evan Goldberg ("Superbad") - pleases with giant penis art in Franco's place and jokey accusations of his fellatio habits. If this is how the world ends, all pervy and hilarious and even kind of tenderhearted, do it already - bring on that rapture, damn it. Extras, including a Rogen/Goldberg commentary and the rompy Line-O-Rama, abound, but it's the short "Cannibal King" that's four minutes of kinky delight.
Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection
When it comes to the immortalization of horror franchises, "Friday the 13th" kills the competition. No other whack job - not Michael Myers, not even Freddy - has as many reincarnations as Jason Voorhees, the machete slice-and-dicer who's been drowned and burned and frozen and hilariously sent to space. But a dozen movies in, and the dude's probably still at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake waiting for his next sequel so he can refurbish his hockey mask and mangle more teens while they get their hanky-panky on. This comprehensive set should help his cause: This nifty collectible tin case features every movie - from the low-budget 1980 original with a bulgy-crotched Kevin Bacon to Jason's faceoff with Freddy (poor Kelly Rowland) and the 2009 reboot - in a foldout Blu-ray book with a retrospective insert, 3D glasses for "Part III" and a camp counselor patch. Having all 12 of the franchise's flicks in hi-def, some of them for the first time ("Jason X"!), is a horror buff's dream, and the special features - commentaries, trailers and a "Killer Bonus" disc featuring special-effects secrets and chats with Jason's victims, all carryovers from previous DVD releases - do justice to one of the genre's most menacing and iconic villains.
American Horror Story: Asylum
Even with the wicked cast of witches currently stirring trouble on FX, there's still no shaking the psychologically darker-than-dark last season of TV horror anthology "American Horror Story," where a psych ward was the setting for Jessica Lange's ex-gay therapy, a rapey doctor who dismembered the limbs of one of his patients, and a hideous new terror icon known as Bloody Face. And to think: this all from the guy who brought you "Glee." Ryan Murphy - who, let's face it, has guts - goes back in time to the '60s, to Briarcliff Mental Institution, and to the insanity of Catholic loons running a facility with gross narrow-mindedness and evil malice. Oh, and aliens - there's those, too. Murphy even exercises his musical flair with one of the season's best scenes: the patients' random dance break during "The Name Game." "Asylum" was a descent into the deliciously disgusting corners of Murphy's warped mind, and all of it brought to life (and death) by one helluva cast: Lange, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Dylan McDermott, Frances Conroy and James Cromwell, who won an Emmy for his role. They discuss their characters during a compendium of interviews. Other extras include the ridiculous/fun set tour "The Orderly," a look at the production design and the series' use of monster makeup.
You know Elijah Wood from "Flipper." And you know him as Frodo, and as the voice of a penguin in "Happy Feet." Now, with the remake of William Lustig's 1980 slasher, you'll know him as a creepy, panting Norman Bates-type serial killer with a thing for lady hair, which he scalps and then uses for the mannequins in his boutique shop. Frank's reason for such savagery? Mommy issues ... obviously. What follows is a sadistic stomach-churner with some very sickening sequences of human-wig-making gore and horrifying turns of psychological darkness, all seen through the eyes of Frank. The POV adds an unsettling effect, but otherwise it's "Psycho" for a new generation of "Saw"-obsessed thrill seekers. Extras skimp, but there's an interesting interview with director Franck Khalfoun on the source material that inspired his remake.
Hannibal: Season One
The debut season of NBC's Hannibal Lecter spinoff was as much about cannibalism as it was Hugh Dancy in his underwear. That's not a plot spoiler - that's a reason to watch. And there are many of those in this twisty creep show. "Hannibal," from "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller, is a sickening mind game, where every dinner turns another carnivore into a strict vegetarian and where every interaction between FBI agent Will Graham (Dancy) and the iconic Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) gets a little gayer. Adding to the queer factor is Scott Thompson of "Kids in the Hall," who butches up as a crime-scene investigator. Uncut episodes, a peek into the series' development and a humorous piece on the cannibalistic subtext are among the bonus features.
The Fog (Collector's Edition)
Jamie Lee Curtis pretty much hates "The Fog," which is kind of funny because she's in it. In a thorough new interview on the 1980 film's Blu-ray debut, the "scream queen" is amusingly frank about John Carpenter's second tier slow-go follow-up to "Halloween." Curtis is, perhaps, a tad harsh on this ghost story about a town swept up in a thick ... well, you know. Without trying to be more than a mysterious little fable, "The Fog" has its simple goose-bumping pleasures, leave-it-to-your-imagination spooks and a lasting impression. What comes to mind every time you drive through a cloud of white smog? Yeah, this creepiness. Full of supplements, including a Carpenter commentary, the "Collector's Edition" is an impressive set.
Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition)
Michael Myers just keeps coming back ... to DVD/Blu-ray, that is. Thirty-five years after he brought Halloween-night terror to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), and to the rest of the spooked-out world, the masked man gets a fancy hi-def book-style edition with 20 pages of archival photographs and the awesomely monstrous Myers art on the front. It's the best-sounding, best-looking version (so far, anyway) of one of horror's undying classics, and some all-new extras justify this as a must-have rerelease: Curtis is joined by director John Carpenter for a revealing commentary, and the engaging "Night She Came Home" travels to a fan convention with Curtis, where she hangs with "Halloween" diehards. Long live the king/queen of horror!Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at http://www.chris-azzopardi.com.