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The Dark Knight Trilogy is here plus, a first batch of films to get you in a Halloween mood

Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm


By Peter Covino

Lifestyles Editor

Although most of them are actually pretty bad, one of my favorite genres at the movies (and watching at home on DVD) is horror and science fiction.
I am always on the look out  for  the next Psycho or The Exorcist so when something like the first couple of Scream movies comes along or The Cabin in the Woods, I get pretty excited.
While nothing really “Exorcist” scary has come along lately, October means lots of DVD/Blu-ray releases of some classic and some not so classic horror films.
I hate to pull a bait and switch, but before moving on to the latest horror offerings, I’ve got to include here something else dark and masterful and available this week on DVD and Blu-ray — it’s the Batman.
If you are a fan of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale trio of films, chances are you have already bought one if not all three of the Batman titles.
But if you are a fan, you really need to get your hands on The Dark Knight Trilogy: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment).
This is a very cool set, absolutely.
This ultimate, limited number set includes all three movies of course (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), plus three bonus discs (including one disc with new special features AND exclusive memorabilia that will excite any Bat fan.
•The exclusive goodies include three premium Hot Wheels vehicles, The Tumbler, The Batpod and The Bat, plus newly commissioned collectible art cards featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent and Ra’s al Ghul. Add to that a 48-page hardcover book featuring production stills and behind the scenes images from all three movies.
The nicely-boxed set also includes Ultraviolet versions of the three films so you can watch the films on your phone, tablet or computer.
The set includes features previous available with the purchase of the films when they originally premiered on DVD, plus the disc with the all-new features including:
The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy – The inside perspective on the fascinating story behind the creation of one of the Batman franchise and how it changed the scope of movie making forever.  Full of never-before-seen footage, rare moments, and exclusive interviews with  Guillermo Del Toro, Damon Lindelof, Michael Mann, Richard Roeper, Zack Snyder and others.
•Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation – For the first time, directors Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Richard Donner (Superman) sit down to discuss the trials and triumphs involved in bringing the two most iconic superheroes of all time to the big screen, and how Superman influenced Nolan when developing Batman Begins.
•IMAX Sequences: The Dark Knight; The Dark Knight Rises – See favorite scenes as they were intended in the original IMAX aspect ratio.
Back to scary.
I have probably seen The Shining at least a half a dozen times and like most, I’ve have scratched my head and wondered just what was Stanley Kubrick thinking when he shot one scene or another.
Well after watching the documentary Room 237, looks like I will be watching The Shining once again.
One of the more compelling documentaries I have seen in a while, if you are a fan of The Shining, you will never look at it the same way again after watching this film.
Director Rodney Ascher has gathered scholars and fanatics and let them spin their own wide-raging interpretations about the Kubrick classic. Some are crackpot crazy, while others will make you sit up and take notice.
Even the crackpots make a convincing case as they put all the hidden clues together on what else is going on in The Shining.
There is the expert who is sure that Kubrick was a mastermind behind the hoax of the lunar landing. Both he and Kubrick believed we landed on the moon, but all those lunar shots were made on a soundstage, with Kubrick in charge. The Shining was Kubrick’s way of letting everyone know it was a hoax. His proof via the film will at the very least, make you smile.
The fact that Stephen King did not like what Kubrick did to his novel is legendary. And one of the more believable aspects that the film brings out is that in the King’s book, Jack Torrance is driving a red Volkswagen bug when he is taking his family to the grand old resort hotel, where his job as caretaker awaits. In the film, Jack is driving a yellow Volkswagen and they drive by a crushed red Volkswagen involved in an accident. It hardly seems an accident that the detailed Kubrick would crush a red Volkswagen. It is his way of saying that was the book, this is my movie.
I won’t be as fanatical as this group (some of them seem to have devoted their lives to this picture), but next time I watch The Shining, I will be on the lookout for more clues and meanings from the mind of Kubrick.
If you want to explore The Shining further, the DVD bonus features include commentary with Kevin McLeod; Secrets of the Shining, a panel discussion for the Stanley Film Festival and 11 deleted scenes.
Room 237 (IFC Films) is available in Blu-ray and double disc DVD.
Bates Motel
Before Bates Motel premiered on A&E, I was a bit interested but figured a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho would most likely  be unwatchable.
The  horror/drama starring Freddie Highmore as a teenaged Norman and Vera Farmiga as Norma, as his over protective mother, is one of the best dramas on TV.
It’s creepy for sure, at times mother and son are just a little bit too close, but I think the Master of Suspense would be interested in this series, even though he might not necessarily approved of it.
There have been several murders (Norma always seems to be in the middle of things, even if it isn’t her own doing) and Norman, well Norman is well on the way to being the lonely guy who operates a motel, waiting for Janet Leigh to arrive on his doorstep.
There are plenty of references to the original film, even though the time is now, and the motel is in the Northwest.
The series also stars Max Thieriot as Max, Norma’s other son (who knew?), and Norman’s half-brother.
Bates Motel includes some deleted scenes and panel discussion with cast and crew and the Blu-ray includes a digital Ultraviolet version.
Bates Motel Season 1 is a Universal Home Entertainment Release. Season 2 is due in 2014.
The Warner Archive Collection (films available only at has a trio of newly-released horror-type classics from the 60s and early 70s.
Targets (1968) is Peter Bogdavnovich’s directorial debut and is a stroke of genius, thanks in part to B-movie maestro Roger Corman.
Bogdanovich was given a crazy challenge by Corman to make a film with free reign. He could make any film he wanted, but he had to use Boris Karloff (Karloff owed Corman two days work); it had to include clips from another Corman film and, it had to stay under budget.
The end result is a thriller supposedly patterned after University of Texas sniper Charles Whitman, about a Vietnam vet murdering his young wife, mother and a grocery delivery boy at home before going on a shooting rampage.
This is much more than a guilty pleasure, Targets is a very interesting film.
Lady in a Cage (1964) is still a taunt little thriller with Olivia De Havilland starring as an invalid rich widow trapped in her home elevator when along comes James Caan (in his first major film role) and some other hoodlums where they help themselves to her possessions  and begin a night of murder and violence. From an original poster: What happens in this elevator is not for the weak. It is perhaps, not even for the strong.
The film also stars Jeff Corey, Ann Sothern and Scatman Crothers.
And finally, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), one of those in the woods, haunted movies. Jessica (Zohra Lampert) is a recent asylum inmate and she has moved with her husband and a friend from the big city to the woods of a small Connecticut island. But this will not be the peaceful retreat Jessica so desperately needs. This is a low budget thriller, but it has its fair share of chills.