RUNDOWN: Weekly Releases for 10/29/13

Monsters University 3D

Disney/Buena Vista / 2013 / 104 Minutes / Rated G

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Pixar's long anticipated follow-up to its popular buddy comedy 'Monsters, Inc.', came in the form of a prequel of sorts with last year's 'Monster University'. Sort of a "When Harry Met Sully" prequel, the story traces the origins of the lead characters Mike Wazowski and his soon to be lifelong pal, James P. "Sulley" Sullivan. Voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman, this above average follow-up was a hit with audiences and critics, although for my money, nothing comes close to the charm and originality of its predecessor.

The prequel focuses on how these two mismatched monsters met and became lifelong friends when they met while attending college. Mike Wazowski (Crystal) dreams of becoming a Scarer, and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike's plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, "Sulley" (Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair's out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University's elite Scare Program forcing the mismatched duo to work together along with an odd bunch of other misfit monsters to get their dreams back on track.

Extras are plentiful as expected with any Pixar release including featurettes, Campus Life, Color and Light, Paths to Pixar, Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective, Audio Commentary, 'The Blue Umbrella' Animated Short, College & Theatrical Campaigns, Set Flythroughs, Art Gallery, Story School, Scare Games, Welcome to MU, Music Appreciation, Scare Tactics, as well as Deleted Scenes.

R.I.P.D. 3D

Universal / 2013 / Rated PG-13

Blu ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Never was there a movie so contrived and artificially created than last year's dead-on-arrival action comedy R.I.P.D. 3D. Take one part 'Ghostbusters' and three parts 'Men in Black', through in some C.G.I. and stir in tongue-in-cheeks jokes... and voila, you've got a blockbuster comedy. Right? At least that was the thought behind this bland action fantasy from director Robert Schwentke and fading leading man Ryan Reynolds. Even Jeff Bridges who tries his best to elevate this into at least a mildly acceptable comedy fails miserably. Costarring Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Robert Knepper, and James Hong, this PG-13 release should be avoided by anyone over the age of thirteen.

This fish out of water, or ghost out of haunted house tale concerns the veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges), a curmudgeon of a soul who has spent his career with legendary police force R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous souls disguised among the living as ordinary people as he finds himself teamed with a former but now deceased rising-star detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) as his new partner. However, upon uncovering a plot that could end life as we know it, the new duo have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork to restore the cosmic balance or watch the tunnel to the afterlife spill angry souls onto Earth. One by one, this duo must do what it takes to save humanity, while not trying to want to kill one another (oops, they're already dead) in the process.

Considering the colossal size dud this film was at the box office, the studio nonetheless decided to jam pack the Blu-ray release with a plethora of extras including featurettes, Alternate Scenes: Nick & Hayes to Raid, Julia Jogging & Made to My Skull, Deleted Scene: Roy's Partner Shot Him, Gag Reel, Transferring R.I.P.D: A "Making Of" that focuses on the adaption of the original R.I.P.D. comic and the stellar cast that came to inhabit the characters, Two Alternate Openings, Anatomy of a Shootout, R.I.P.D. Motion Comics: Bringing the Avatars to Life, Nick's New Avatars: See the other Avatar contenders for Nick and Hayes (Kevin Bacon), as well as Filming the Other Side.

Cars Ultimate Collector's Edition

Pixar / 2006 / 116 Minutes / Rated G

Blu ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

It's been seven years since Pixar's refreshingly original CGI adventure 'Cars' raced to the head of the box-office and spawned a less successful sequel. Looking to squeeze out a few more shekels, the studio rereleased the original in 3D last year. Not much can take off the sheen (or add to) this unstoppable comedy that features the voices of Owen Wilson as well as the legendary Paul Newman. Marking one of his last roles, albeit as a voice, Newman embodies so much of the film's heart and soul. With some mind-blowing visuals under the tutelage of Pixar progenitor John Lassiter, this car racing classic remains one of the studio's finest creations-in the ranks of the first and foremost, 'Toy Story'.

Co-written by Lasseter, the film's tale centers around the theme of friendship and loyalty. Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is a rookie racecar who is convinced he can take the Piston Cup Championship if he can only make it to California in time. But with the competition looking to sidetrack him, Lightning finds himself waylaid in the town of Radiator Springs, putting his future in neutral for the time being. But it's here where this young newbie discovers what life is all about with a new gang of friends including Sally the Porsche (Bonnie Hunt), Doc Hudson (Newman), and Mater the Tow Truck (Larry the Cable Guy), and a hippy dippy VW bus (George Carlin).

Extras include all of the bonus features that were included in the original dvd release as well as short films, 'Mater and the Ghostlight', and 'One Man Band', the featurette 'Inspiration for 'Cars' as week as deleted scenes, as well as storyboard animatics of 4 scenes never fully animated.


MPI / 2012 / 112 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Rarely do directors tempt fate by diving back into a genre they've had success with by risking being derivative or suffering by comparison. However none of that seem to deter Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire) from sucking a little more blood with last year's arty vampire thriller 'Byzantium'. This stylish fantasy is more melodramatic than it is thrilling, however the director does manage to pull off a terrific bit of filmmaking by creating a film that stands on its own and won't suffer by big-budget comparison to 'Interview'. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Caleb Landry Jones, and Thure Lindhardt, this above-average vampire flick still proves the genre is far from anemic, at least at the hands of Neil Jordan.

This unconventional mother-daughter-vampire tale involves two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara (Arterton) meets lonely Noel (Mays), who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. When schoolgirl Eleanor (Ronan) befriends Frank (Jones) and tells him their dark secret concerning their vampire origins, all hell breaks loose in the seedy Byzantium Hotel, where the hotel's guests are routinely served up as the main course. Not your typical blood sucking thriller, Jordan delivers a much more thinking man's approach to the material.

Extras include Cast and crew interviews as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.


Scorpion Releasing / 1980 / 95 Minutes / Rated PG

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Scorpion Releasing digs up an unconventional mystery suspense fantasy from 1980, with Simon Wincer's 'Harlequin'. Starring Robert Powell, David Hemmings, and Carmen Duncan, this loosely based tale has echoes in 20th-century Russian history as the film's plot manages an unexpected combination of a modern-day political espionage adventure mixed with a startling supernatural thriller. While it doesn't necessarily manage to nail either genre down effectively, this throwback to the 1980's has enough going for it to make it a mild diversion in the cluttered landscape of video releases.

Nick and Sandra Rast (Hemmings and Duncan) are parents of a young boy suffering from leukemia. Like any parents, the two are willing to do whatever it takes to cure their child. So when Gregory Wolfe (Powell) shows up with his faith-healing techniques to treat their son, Sandra buys in hook, line and sinker. Complicating matters is that Nick will soon be running the government and his career depends a lot on Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford), his mentor. It is here where the real power struggle begins as these dark forces reveal themselves for who they really are and what their nefarious motives are really up to.

Extras are nonexistent.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Kino Classics / 1964 / 81 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Kino Classics uncovers a not-so-forgotten 60's cult classic, 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians'. A film so bad in concept and execution that it's actually good, if that's a word you want to describe this unintended mess, this holiday sci-fi family film stars a then unknown Pia Zadora, Vincent Beck, John Call, and Leonard Hicks. Directed by Nicholas Webster, this moldy oldie gets a well-needed (but probably undeserved) facelift and a ton of never-before-seen extras.

A flip on the typical holiday fare, this 1964 sci-fi adventure concerns the fact that the Martians are irked that their children spend so much time watching TV shows from Earth that sing the praises of Santa Claus, so they decide to make a trek to the planet to capture Kris Kringle for themselves. During their fateful mission, the Martians also abduct two children who lead the aliens to the North Pole and Santa. The Martians take all three earthlings back to Mars, where, with the help of a native, they manage to spread Christmas cheer throughout the red planet. This holiday staple received a hilarious treatment from the guys of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (also included here) as well as being riffed by Cinematic Titanic, as well as scenes from the movie were also used in both Comedy Central's ''A Colbert Christmas'' and ''Eloise at Christmastime''.

Extras include ''The Retro Holiday Film Festival'' that includes Vintage Max Fleischer Holiday Cartoons, Seasons Greetings from Classic TV Stars, Howdy Doody s Christmas Story, as well as some rare Holiday Commercials of the day.


Synapse Films / 1985 / 88 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Horror films can often be polarizing even for critics. Such is the case with director Lamberto Bava's 1985 'Demons'. Ludicrous plot and dialogue with gory visuals that never let up, this kitschy classic quickly developed a cult audience in the near three decades since its release. But how bad (or good) can a horror movie be that features an amazing music score by Claudio Simonetti, and heavy metal songs from Billy Idol, Mötley Crüe and Accept? This gory Italian horror film pulls out all the stops in delivering one of the freshest most wickedly original shockers of its time.

The film's plight involves a young woman who is invited by a mysterious masked man to a theater screening in Germany. Taking a friend, the two beautiful ladies discover they are watching a gory horror film but art quickly begins to imitate life, or perhaps the other way around. When a prop on display in the lobby accidentally cuts a young woman's face, she begins to transform. People begin mutating into hideous monsters, as the theater becomes a locked prison for the audience. One by one, the audience members are violently attacked and transform into disgusting demons hell-bent on spreading their apocalyptic plague around the world.

Extras include Audio Commentary Track with Cast & Crew Featuring Recollections from Director Lamberto Bava, Make-up Effects Artist Sergio Stivaletti, Musician Claudio Simonetti and actress Geretta Geretta., as well as Collectible Reproduction of the Original Metropol Theatre Ticket seen in the Film.

Demons 2

Synapse Films / 1986 / 91 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2013

Lamberto Bava follows up his cult classic with more gore and delight with 'Demons 2' released a mere year after the original. In this go-around, this Italian gore-fest stars David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli, and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni in repeating the demonic formula from a movie theater into a high-rise apartment building. Lacking the originality of its predecessor, 'Demons 2' works overtime in the visuals department to make up for what its obviously lacking.

When a spoiled young woman decides to host her own birthday party in her high rise apartment, disaster quickly ensues for her unsuspecting tenants of the building including a man and his pregnant wife, a little boy left alone for the night, as well as a gym full of workout maniacs. In each apartment, televisions are all tuned to a horror film in which a group of young people find evidence of demons, which precedes their becoming possessed. Upset that an ex-boyfriend is coming to her party, the woman goes into her room and turns on the film as a demon bursts through her television. Moments later, the possessed party-pooper enters the party and slaughters all of her guests, turning them into demons. The possession spreads throughout the building as tenant after tenant is transformed, leading to a furious battle between the exercise fanatics and a pack of demons. At barely ninety minutes, Bava is quick to keep the mayhem at a breakneck pace so as not to let viewers catch a breath between the madness and utter absurdity of his plot.

Extras include featurettes from Calum Waddell's HIGH RISING PRODUCTIONS Company.


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