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Home Entertainment Guide: Horror Movie Edition

It's the spookiest season! And it's the time that every studio with a decent catalog digs in and unleashes special editions of their horror classics. This month brought enough new Blu-rays and 4K releases for the horror nut that we thought it best to break them out into their own column. It's not too late to grab something for a marathon this weekend or to torment your kids after they're done trick or treating, from classics getting steelbook releases to a new horror hit to a box set for one of the most profitable horror franchises of all time. Pick your favorite ... if you dare.

"Bram Stoker's Dracula"

It makes sense that Francis Ford Coppola's name is going to always be associated with his legendary '70s run of masterpieces, but I have a soft spot in my heart for this twisted gem, a movie that was wildly underappreciated when it was released but feels like it has seen its reputation grow with each generation that has caught up with it. Gary Oldman is fantastic as the most famous movie creature of the night, but what I love most about this movie is its overwhelmingly rich and detailed design, which really stands out in the new 4K steelbook edition of the film. This is a gorgeous movie, washed in color in a way that studio movies feel like they're increasingly not allowed to be. And the special features here are great, including two commentaries by Coppola himself and some fascinating featurettes about the making of the film that will give you an even greater appreciation for what it accomplishes.

Buy it here 

Special Features
DOLBY VISION/HDR PERSENTATION OF THE FILM, including the original theatrical English subtitle font for texted instances
NEWLY ADDED "Love Song For A Vampire" Music Video by Annie Lennox
NEWLY ADDED Blood Lines – Dracula: The Man, The Myth, The Movies Featurette
Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + Dolby Stereo
BLU-RAY DISC:
Feature presented in High Definition, sourced from the 4K master
Dolby Atmos audio
Audio Commentary featuring Director Francis Ford Coppola
Audio Commentary featuring Director Francis Ford Coppola, Visual Effects Director Roman Coppola and Makeup Supervisor Greg Cannom
Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola
Reflections in Blood: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker's Dracula
Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son
The Blood Is the Life: The Making of Bram Stoker's Dracula
The Costumes Are the Sets: The Design of Eiko Ishioka
In-Camera: Naïve Visual Effects
Method and Madness: Visualizing Dracula
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Theatrical Teaser & Trailer


"Cure" (Criterion)

The movie that really put Kiyoshi Kurosawa on the map has always been a standout in the J-Horror genre, and its induction into the Criterion Collection should continue that historical elevation. Koji Yakusho would become a major collaborator with Kiyoshi Kurosawa over the years, and really should be a bigger star in the States given his consistently remarkable work. He really grounds this film as it threatens to spiral off into something harder to pin down or relate to. He plays a detective investigating a string of violent and yet seemingly unrelated murders. Along the way, he discovers someone who could be pure evil. "Cure" really gets under your skin and it's wonderful that Criterion took the time to restore it in 4K for this release.

Buy it here 

Special Features
4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Tokusho Kikumura, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack
New conversation between director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Interviews with actors Masato Hagiwara and Koji Yakusho
Interview from 2003 with Kurosawa
Trailers and teaser
PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara


"Fright Night"

Roger wasn't the biggest fan of the horror genre, but even he recognized how much Tom Holland's clever vampire flick stood out in 1985, released amidst a glut of slasher pics. An old-fashioned blend of something like "Rear Window" with Bram Stoker—it's not a killer next door, but a vampire—this is a really fun movie that seems to have a growing fan base every year. And Roger's last line in his review is a smart one: ""Fright Night" is not a distinguished movie, but it has a lot of fun being undistinguished." I'd argue that it's a little more distinguished that Roger gave it credit for being but he's right that the main drive here is "fun," and the increasing fan base has a blast with this one every time. Knowing that this is a cult classic with a growing cult, the new 4K steelbook is PACKED with special features, including a bunch of new ones with some famous faces. "Hannibal" creator Bryan Fuller leads a conversation with star Amanda Bearse about the film's queer subtext that's phenomenal and a 35th anniversary script read with special guests is a joy. This is one of the coolest Blu-ray releases of the year in any genre, not just horror.

Buy it here 

Special Features
DISC ONE - 4K BLU-RAY
4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
ALL-NEW DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK + 5.1 + original Dolby Stereo
DISC TWO - BLU-RAY
4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
Audio: 5.1 + original Dolby Stereo
NEW Deleted Scene Storyboards – Tom Holland guides us through the film's only deleted scene, using his personal pre-production storyboards
NEW Holland/Beyda Spec Trailer with an Introduction by Tom Holland – the never-before-seen alternate trailer cut by Fright Night editor Kent Beyda with the guidance—and narration—of Tom Holland
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Tom Holland, Actors Chris Sarandon & Jonathan Stark, Moderated by Filmmaker Tim Sullivan
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Tom Holland, Actors William Ragsdale & Stephen Geoffreys, FX Artist Randall Cook, Moderated by Journalist Jeremy Smith and Filmmaker Tim Sullivan
You're So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night
What is Fright Night
Tom Holland: Writing Horror
Theatrical Trailers
DISC THREE - BLU-RAY
NEW Fright Night 35th Anniversary Script Read – an anniversary cast reunion and script reading featuring writer/director Tom Holland and special guests including Rosario Dawson, Jason Patric, and many more!
NEW The Queer Lens: Bryan Fuller in Conversation with Amanda Bearse – a candid discussion between Fright Night aficionado Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror) and Fright Night star Amanda Bearse about the Gothic's queer roots, the film's queer subtext, and its metaphorical power
NEW A Novel Approach: The Splatterpunk Story of the Fright Night Novelization – Tom Holland, Fright Night novelization authors John Skipp and Craig Spector, and publisher Mark Alan Miller discuss how the progenitors of the splatterpunk genre came to work on the book, their writing process, and the novel's enduring legacy
NEW SFX Storyboard Comparisons – a selection of original storyboards from key effects sequences, compared with their final filmed versions
Roddy McDowall: From Apes to Bats
Tom Holland and Amanda Bearse Talk Fright Night
Round Table with Tom, Stephen and William
Shock Till You Drop Presents Choice Cuts with Tom Holland and Ryan Turek
First Ever Fright Night Reunion Panel - Fear Fest 2 (2008)
Weekend of Hell Panel with Amanda and Stephen
Vintage EPK with Behind-the-Scenes Raw Footage


"I Know What You Did Last Summer"

Released so close to the similar "Scream" that some people reportedly thought it was a part of the same universe, this other Kevin Williamson movie didn't make nearly the same waves as the Wes Craven one but that doesn't mean that horror collectors don't want it in 4K! It's a movie that's a bit better than its reputation even if it's also a movie that Roger definitely hated ("After the screening was over and the lights went up, I observed a couple of my colleagues in deep and earnest conversation, trying to resolve twists in the plot. They were applying more thought to the movie than the makers did. A critic's mind is a terrible thing to waste.") Compared to "Scream," this undeniably falls apart, but I think it's solid mainstream horror escapism, an easy diversion if you're looking for something from this period from your favorite genre. And the 4K release even has new deleted scenes and an alternate ending! I bet Roger would still hate it even with the different ending.

Buy it here 

Special Features
DISC ONE - 4K BLU-RAY
BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
DOLBY VISION/HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM
ALL-NEW DOLBY ATMOS TRACK + original 5.1 track
NEW: Six Deleted Scenes + Alternate Ending
My Own Summer: An Interview with Director Jim Gillespie
He Knows What You Did: An Interview with Muse Watson
Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles for the main feature
DISC TWO - BLU-RAY
Feature presented in High Definition
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio
Filmmakers' Commentary
Director's Short Film: "Joyride" with Optional Commentary
"Now I Know What You Did Last Summer" Featurette
Music Video: "Hush" Performed by Kula Shaker
Theatrical Trailer


"La Llorona" (Criterion)

One of the more original of the recent horror critical darlings, Jayro Bustamante's 2019 Guatemalan film blends classic horror elements with dense political commentary. Reportedly inspired by the real-life indictment of the President of Guatemala during the Guatemalan Civil War in the '80s, it's a film that's as much about institutional failure as it is things that go bump in the night. The stand-in here is a military dictator who is trapped in his estate while awaiting trial for crimes committed against his own people. The arrival of a new housekeeper (Maria Mercedes Coroy) seems to unsettle the entire dynamic in a film that's as much about coming to terms with the ghosts of actual crimes committed against a country as it is actual specters. It's a great inclusion in the Criterion Collection, a move that should get more eyes on a truly worthwhile film.

Buy it here 

Special Features
2K digital master, approved by director Jayro Bustamante, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with Bustamante
Documentary on the making of the film featuring interviews with cast and crew
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by journalist and novelist Francisco Goldman


"The Munsters"

Our review of the latest project from the singular Rob Zombie may be an outlier but its insight and praise are indicative of how passionate this filmmaker's fan base can be about his work. Say what you will about Rob Zombie, he makes films that aren't really like anyone else's, turning his own interests into film fodder (and usually bringing his best friends to the party). And it's a little interesting that Universal has decided to give a film that most people are seeing on Netflix a physical release with special features that includes a commentary by Zombie himself and an hour-long featurette. It's a must-buy for Zombie fans. I know you're out there.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio commentary with Director/Writer/Producer Rob Zombie
The Munsters: Return To Mockingbird Lane – From the mind of Rob Zombie, this hour-long look behind the scenes of The Munsters gives an intimate window into his filmmaking process. Watch as he weaves his way through the production and collaborates with a dedicated team to bring his unique vision to life.


"Night of the Living Dead" (Criterion)

Any list of the most influential movies ever made that doesn't include Romero's game-changing masterpiece is simply incorrect. Everything in the horror genre shifted with "Night of the Living Dead," a movie that's still wildly entertaining and fascinating to watch unfold. You can see its undead fingerprints all over every zombie film that would follow (and a few other brands of horror flicks too) and yet it's not some archival history lesson. It's still such a fun, thrilling movie, and the new Criterion 4K release is just a reminder of its power. The film has been released in this Criterion set before but it's worth the upgrade to the 4K version for a reminder of the deft hand that Romero had with shadow and light at such a young age. There are also SO many great special features, including commentaries with Romero and appreciations of the film by Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez. There's also a fascinating workprint cut of the film called "Night of Anubis," its working title. 

Buy it here 

Special Features
4K digital restoration, supervised by director George A. Romero, coscreenwriter John A. Russo, sound engineer Gary R. Streiner, and producer Russell W. Streiner
Restoration of the monaural soundtrack, supervised by Romero and Gary Streiner and presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray and 4K UHD
In the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film and two Blu-rays with the film and special features
Night of Anubis, a work-print edit of the film
Program featuring filmmakers Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez
Sixteen-millimeter dailies reel
Program featuring Russo on the commercial and industrial-film production company where key Night of the Living Dead participants got their starts
Two audio commentaries from 1994 featuring Romero, Russo, producer Karl Hardman, actor Judith O’Dea, and others
Archival interviews with Romero and actors Duane Jones and Judith Ridley
Programs about the film’s style and score
Interview program about the direction of the film’s ghouls, featuring members of the cast and crew
Interviews with Gary Streiner and Russell Streiner
Newsreels from 1967
Trailer, radio spots, and TV spots
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Stuart Klawans


"Nope"

Jordan Peele is one of the few remaining directors who could be called a box office brand. His name brings people out to the theaters, as evidenced by the success of what's arguably his most daring film this past summer in "Nope." I'm a little more mixed on the film than some of my colleagues but I admit that I've thought about it a great deal since seeing it in theaters. One thing's for sure: it's incredibly ambitious for a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, and this kind of big swing from a big studio is getting increasingly rare. It's also just undeniably tight, as Peele's eye for composition remains as striking as ever. If I have a complaint, it's almost like he's trying to do too much here, pushing so many ideas into his narrative that it never gets a chance to breathe. And I'm not sure they all come together. But I have a feeling this movie works better on repeat viewing and will age remarkably well. With so many blockbusters relying on familiar sources and predictable nostalgia, Peele is an auteur we need to cherish.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Shadows: The Making of Nope
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
Call Him Jean Jacket
Mystery Man of Muybridge


"Paranormal Activity" Collection

A box set! They don't release horror box sets as much as they used to. (Shout Factory kind of mined that entire catalog a few years back.) And so it's neat to see Paramount pull out the form for their juggernaut of a franchise, "Paranormal Activity." Sure, the franchise has sputtered to a miserable conclusion (the reboot attempt in "Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin" was a big misfire) but it's neat to have the entire collection of this low-budget series in one box. The cultural impact of "Paranormal Activity" is also a bit underrated as the massive financial success of the 2007 first film really put producer Jason Blum on the map, defining his low budget approach to horror that would make him one of the genre's biggest producers ever. Ignoring all the business concerns, there are also just some fun choices made in this franchise, especially in the first couple movies. They're reportedly working on an eighth film, "The Other Side." Catch up before it's released. (Oh, and this is the only way to own "Next of Kin" or the doc about the series, "Unknown Dimension," on physical media.)

Buy it here 

Special Features
Paranormal Activity
Includes Theatrical and Unrated Version with Alternate Ending
Paranormal Activity 2
Includes Theatrical and Unrated Version
Paranormal Activity 3
Includes Theatrical and Unrated Version
Paranormal Activity 4
Includes Theatrical and Unrated Version
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Includes Theatrical and Unrated Version
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Includes Theatrical, Unrated, and Unrated Version with Alternate Ending
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension 3D Blu-ray
Includes Theatrical 3D Version
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Includes over 20 minutes of deleted scenes and an alternate ending
Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity


"Scream 2"

It was brilliant of Paramount to drop this 1998 sequel less than a year after the smash hit original, while these characters and the image of the Ghostface killer were still reverberating through pop culture. Comparisons to the first movie naturally led to some underrating this one, which is still a very solid follow-up thanks to Wes Craven's insanely high craftsmanship and a script that's smarter than most sequels. Released in a 4K steelbook edition for the first time, this is a great pick-up for horror fans this Halloween season, and is accompanied by the excellent special features from previous releases, including some interesting deleted scenes and an excellent commentary that includes the master himself.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Audio Commentary by Director Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena and Editor Patrick Lussier
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Director Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena and Editor Patrick Lussier)
Outtakes
Featurette
Music Videos:
Master P – "Scream"
Kottonmouth Kings – "Suburban Life"
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots


"Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection"

Four beloved Universal monster flicks get the 4K treatment in this new box set that includes remastered versions of "The Mummy," "The Bride of Frankenstein," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Creature from the Black Lagoon." It's a companion to a 4K set released by the studio a year ago that included "Dracula" and "Frankenstein," but this set shouldn't be considered lesser to that release. It includes one of my favorites of the classic monster movies, the incredible "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which our very own Matt Zoller Seitz gave a tribute here that you really should read. Admittedly, the transfers here aren't much better than the Blu-ray box set with the same packaging and special features, but if you didn't pick up that one, you have no excuse now.

Buy it here 

Special Features
Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
Feature Commentaries
Production Photographs
Theatrical Trailers

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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