Happy Holidays from FearSeeker.Net! Explore these recent releases for all of the fright fans on your gift list, or give a gift “From You, To You” to reward yourself for surviving another year.
Additional reporting by Laura Bitten, Maggie Z, and Christopher Foulke.
A seldom-noticed fact: Tim Burton did not write this creepy, heartwarming classic. He didn’t even direct it. Yet every frame of the movie bears his unmistakable mark, from the iconic curly-cue mountaintops to the long, slender form of Jack Skellington himself. Like most great films made before the dawn of the Internet, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS bores some viewers today. Disney knows this about modern attention spans, so they re-released it in 3D, and now on Blu-ray 3D.
Also recommended: The special-edition NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS album, also available on iTunes, featuring covers by Marilyn Manson, Fiona Apple, and Fall Out Boy.
All you really need to know: It’s about zombies. It’s based on a superb comic book series. It’s roughly as good as 28 DAYS LATER and the new DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), which is to say, it’s quite good. And DVD collections and box-sets are the perfect gift for old people who don’t watch Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, or illegally downloaded digital files with Korean subtitles.
In a woeful marketing practice known as “artificial scarcity,” Warner Brothers is reportedly discontinuing all HARRY POTTER discs on December 29, 2011, so that people will be forced to buy a pricier box set, which is due in stores in late 2012. If you happen to have a gajillion dollars in Gringotts gold, then hold out for that ultimate, super-deluxe, mega-colossal set. Otherwise, pick up this bare-bones, value-priced collection as soon as possible. It includes the recently released eighth film, which also happens to be the scariest installment in the sure-to-be-timeless series that began as an innocent fable for children and ended as an epic saga of great moral heft.
The Criterion Collection is a vast library of special-edition DVDs uniquely calibrated to the tastes of die-hard film buffs. Previous honorees include THE SEVENTH SEAL (starring Death himself!) and the vampire-zombie flick CRONOS by the wise and powerful Guillermo Del Toro. At long last, Criterion pays its proper respects to GODZILLA, with all-new documentaries; a free bonus movie (the 1956 American version); cast & crew interviews; and an “illustrated audio essay” exploring a real-life event that inspired GODZILLA. Like all great scary movies, GODZILLA equals more than the sum of its monster parts: The story is a post-Hiroshima allegory for Japanese life in the shadow of unprecedented nuclear destruction. If you dislike black-and-white movies with subtitles (you probably do, statistically speaking), hold out for the sure-to-be-louder American reboot due in theaters soon, but, by all means, please continue to ignore the boring 1998 remake from the producer of INDEPENDENCE DAY.
SUPER 8 provides another pick for the monster-movie classicist on your list. Although released just last summer, it’s a suburban period piece steeped in nostalgia. Without a doubt, writer/director J.J. Abrams long ago earned his “street cred” among genre fans, but his creature-design team might benefit from a crash course with Godzilla. Abrams’ CLOVERFIELD, STAR TREK, and now SUPER 8 all share a series of lackluster monsters teeming with awkward limbs and lacking in personality. Regardless of any monstrous shortcomings, each of these movies continues to win over audiences by virtue of their pure humanity.
Anything we missed? Post your recent movie & TV picks below.