A couple of box office monsters (pun intended), some downright classics, and genre TV favorites all grace The Shelf this week. It’s generally good week, but this one is particularly awesome, what with anniversary sets and complete seasons and so forth and such and such.
Anytime there’s a particularly anticipated blockbuster, especially one based on a property that people love but hasn’t been served well in recent memory, there tends to be a collective holding of breath, which can often be released as a disappointed groan. This year’s runaway favorite in the “I Hope It’s Good, I Hope It’s Good” category is almost certainly Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, which fans have been excited and worried about since a teaser was first shown at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012. The trailer and footage we’d gotten to see recently made us even more excited, but the sting of the 1998 pseudo-comic travesty still required bi-monthly ointment. As the movie began to play and the doctored footage of 1940s and 50s nuclear blasts flickered across the screen, I let out a sigh of relief.
Godzilla deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible, even in your home theater, so if you haven’t got a huge flatscreen or a good sound system, you might be missing out on some of it, but it’s a big movie regardless and you’ll be swept up in the action, even if the big lug is only onscreen for 8 minutes of the 123 minute running time (yikes, I didn’t realize it was that small). The Blu-ray, aside from looking and sounding great, also contains some “vintage” and “modern” in-world featurettes about the monsters and things, a 20-minute making-of and retrospect about the franchise, and further looks at some of the more impressive sequences, like the very memorable HALO jump. It’s not a huge amount of extras, but there’s good stuff there for fans of the movie.
Ghostbusters 1 and 2 30th & 25th Anniversary Blu-ray
Being a child of 1984, my life has always included Ghostbusters even if I didn’t see it until much later. It was inescapable from a merchandising standpoint in the mid-1980s. The symbol of the “No Ghosts” that graced the firehouse and Ecto-1 was plastered on lunchboxes, t-shirts, toys, games, everything. The word “omnipresent” comes to mind. A Saturday morning cartoon, brazenly calling itself The REAL Ghostbusters (to differentiate itself from Filmation’s Ghost Busters property) was where I first became aware of the franchise, and I remember being jealous beyond words when my aunt and uncle told me they’d gone to see Ghostbusters II in theaters in 1989. “We saw Ghostbusters TWOOOOOOO!” my uncle said, shoving two fingers toward my five-year-old face just like the modified emblem had done. What a jerk.
Now, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters and the 25th anniversary of Ghostbusters II, a swank 4K restoration of the movies is being released on Blu-ray. Neither movie has looked or sounded better, and all the massively quotable lines and colorful, memorable characters and ghosts pop off the screen. The dog versions of Zuul and Vinz Clothor look a bit faker than they did pre-HD, as do some of the matte paintings, but those are very minor quibbles, and can’t really be helped. There are new features included as well, on top of the original ones that Ghostbusters had. The one worth mentioning is a two-part retrospective on the films and the future of the franchise, hosted by Geoff Boucher with director Ivan Reitman and co-star/co-writer Dan Aykroyd.
You love these movies, you know them (at least the first one) by heart, so why not own them in the best possible quality? Heat ’em up!
Okay, so David Lynch was, is, and always will be a crazy person. A crazy person who makes interesting films? Of course, but a crazy person nonetheless. It’s amazing to me that he was allowed to make more films, and ones that were and are considered great works, when his first film is so uninviting, non-commercial, and just plain disturbing. That movie is, of course, 1977’s Eraserhead which Lynch made over the course of five years getting little bits of money here and there to finish it. The film is billed as “A dream of dark and troubling things” and that couldn’t possibly be a better description. It first gained prominence in midnight movie houses and in the arthouse circuit and it has eventually wracked up notoriety for being, simply put, one of the creepiest movies ever made.
There’s no denying that Lynch had a vision, as messed up and nightmarish as that vision was. The film, for those who haven’t seen it, is light on plot but follows a working schmuck named Henry Spencer (John, later Jack, Nance) who seems immensely ill at ease with the industrial hell in which he lives. He has a hot across-the-hall neighbor, but has a girlfriend named Mary who is always ill or sporting some malady. After an awkward dinner with Mary’s parents, it’s revealed to Henry that she’s had a “baby” and that he’s probably the father. That baby, it turns out, is a mutant sort of worm creature that won’t be quiet and is pretty repulsive through and through. (There are reports that the baby is a cow fetus acquired from a medical lab and made into a puppet somehow.) From there, the film is mostly just Henry slowly going insane while he’s forced to raise the baby alone. There’s also a lady in his radiator who has a bulbous face and sings a creepy song about heaven, and a guy who lives in a planet Henry sees in his dreams. It’s… it’s a thing all right.
The Criterion release, as per usual, makes the film look and sound its absolute best and also gives us some interesting special features, including five of Lynch’s short films, interviews with members of the cast and crew, a 2001 documentary on the making of the film as done by Lynch himself, and little snippets of other interviews and television programs throughout the years. The booklet also contains an interview with Lynch by author and filmmaker Chris Rodley’s 1997 book Lynch on Lynch.
It’s a movie that has to be seen to be believed… and even then you probably won’t believe it.
The Fault in Our Stars
I didn’t see this movie, directed by Josh Boone, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber based on the bestselling book by John Green, but a lot of people did. Were you one of them?
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 40th Anniversary
One of the scariest and most influential horror movies ever made turns 40 this year and to commemorate, there’s a spiffy new Blu-ray edition. I just watched the movie recently and it’s just as grueling and unsettling as it probably was at the time. Leatherface remains one of the top 5 faces of horror and new fans seem to be discovering Tobe Hooper’s snuff-film-like excursion into a family of cannibals all the time. Won’t you join them for dinner? I hear they make good headcheese.
Arrow Season 2
After a first season that was always entertaining but took a bit to find its footing, the second season of the CW’s superhero epic Arrow kicked it into high gear right away and maintained that for nearly the duration. The show constantly outdid itself by adding new and interesting characters from the DC Universe to flesh out Oliver Queen’s Starling City. Chief among these new additions is Black Canary played by Caity Lotz. She’s the frigging COOLEST and is a major ally for Arrow, along with having a lot of history with the characters. Baddies like Tiger Claw, Brother Blood, and even Solomon Grundy make appearances of varying sizes throughout the year. My one complaint would be that I got so tired of Deathstroke by the end, but it’s a pretty minor qualm. Great, shocking season with a lot of action and a great set-up for both this upcoming season and the Flash spinoff beginning in October.
Sleepy Hollow Season 1
Going into last TV season, I thought Sleepy Hollow couldn’t possibly last more than a couple of episodes. I mean, it was just so bonkers – Ichabod Crane being woken up in the present day to do battle with the Headless Horseman, who is ACTUALLY one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and a smorgasbord of other demons and creatures of the night. So weird, right? Well, it turned out to be one of the standout programs of 2013 and tortured us by making us wait almost a whole year to get more. Luckily, it proved so popular that the official Sleepy Hollow podcast could exist, and lives here on the Nerdist Network. That’s fun, isn’t it?
Hannibal Season 2
Bryan Fuller’s uber-gory and highly addicting adaptation of the works of Thomas Harris had a second season full of game changers. From the first half when Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is in a psych ward awaiting trail for murders he didn’t commit to the second half where he and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) are attempting to get the evidence they need to book Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson), despite still going to dinner with him and eating what they have to realize is people, the season just continued to gross out and yet appetize. Once Mason Verger (Michael Pitt) shows up, you know some really nasty shiz is on the horizon.
What are you picking up this week? Let us know in the comments below!