Just in time for Halloween, a slew of scary (and often very gay) horror films
CHRIS AZZOPARDI | Contributing Writer
Halloween is a time for scary movies, and there are tons — plus some gruesome TV shows — in this collectible-heavy week.
Chucky: The Complete Collection. Dolls used to be disposable. Toss ’em, sell ’em, give ’em to Goodwill. Not Chucky. The little ginger shit just won’t go away. A quarter-century after Child’s Play made a very convincing argument that those cuddly Cabbage Patch Kids may not be so cuddly, the horror icon demonstrates that nothing — decapitation, combustion, bad sequels — can keep him away from preying on little kids’ souls.
And so we have The Curse of Chucky, the sixth installment in this franchise box set and the first to go direct to disc. That it’s a high point for the saga — maybe even the best — says a lot about filmmaker’s Don Mancini’s passion to please the fans by making Chucky your worst nightmare again. Curse, where the savage plaything ties up some loose ends, is a maniacal nightmare, but also, and to Mancini’s credit, a slick and stylish dovetail to the original.
If he was a jokey goof after the campy-fun Bride of Chucky and campy-crappy Seed of Chucky, now, the “Good Guy” returns to remind you that no one toys around with this pint-sized punk. Well, except for maybe one person (after the credits, you’ll see who’s back for a killer epilogue). The rest of this Blu-ray collection includes both Seed and Bride (look for John Waters, Alexis Arquette, Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Tilly) and the trio of Child’s Play-titled films. Most of the extras — and there’s a fair share — are either DVD hold-over commentaries or related to recent installments: the making of Curse, bringing this mean mofo to life, lots of Tilly and “The Chucky Legacy.” Chucky wants to play. Do so if you dare.
Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection. When it comes to the immortalization of horror franchises, Friday the 13th kills the competition. No other whack job — not Michael Myers, not even Freddy Kruger — has as many reincarnations as Jason Voorhees, the machete slice-and-dicer who’s been drowned and burned and frozen and hilariously sent to space. But a dozen movies in, and the dude’s probably still at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake waiting for his next sequel so he can refurbish his hockey mask and mangle more teens while they get their hanky-panky on.
This comprehensive set should help his cause. This nifty collectible tin case features every movie — from the low-budget 1980 original with a bulgy-crotched Kevin Bacon to Jason’s face-off with Freddy (poor Kelly Rowland) and the 2009 reboot — in a foldout Blu-ray book with a retrospective insert, 3D glasses for Part III and a camp counselor patch. Having all 12 of the franchise’s flicks in hi-def, some of them for the first time (Jason X!), is a horror buff’s dream, and the special features — commentaries, trailers and a “Killer Bonus” disc featuring special-effects secrets and chats with Jason’s victims, all carryovers from previous DVD releases — do justice to one of the genre’s most menacing and iconic villains.
Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition). Michael Myers just keeps coming back … to DVD/Blu-ray, that is. Thirty-five years (yes, GenXers, it’s been that long) after he brought Halloween-night terror to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and to the rest of the spooked-out world, the masked man gets a fancy hi-def book-style edition with 20 pages of archival photographs and the awesomely monstrous Myers art on the front.
It’s the best-sounding, best-looking version (so far, anyway) of one of horror’s undying classics, and some all-new extras justify this as a must-have re-release: Curtis is joined by director John Carpenter for a revealing commentary, and the engaging “Night She Came Home” travels to a fan convention with Curtis, where she hangs with Halloween diehards. Long live the king/queen of horror!
The Fog (Collector’s Edition). Curtis pretty much hates The Fog, which is kind of funny because she’s in it. In a thorough new interview on the 1980 film’s Blu-ray debut, the “scream queen” is amusingly frank about John Carpenter’s second tier slow-go follow-up to Halloween. Curtis is, perhaps, a tad harsh on this ghost story about a town swept up in a thick … well, you know. Without trying to be more than a mysterious little fable, The Fog has its simple goose-bumping pleasures, leave-it-to-your-imagination spooks and a lasting impression. What comes to mind every time you drive through a cloud of white smog? Yeah, this creepiness. Full of supplements, including a Carpenter commentary, the Collector’s Edition is an impressive set.
American Horror Story: Asylum. Even with the wicked cast of witches currently stirring trouble on FX, there’s still no shaking the psychologically darker-than-dark last season of TV horror anthology American Horror Story, where a psych ward was the setting for Jessica Lange’s ex-gay therapy, a rapey doctor who dismembered the limbs of one of his patients, and a hideous new terror icon known as Bloody Face. And to think: This all from the guy who brought you Glee.
Ryan Murphy — who, let’s face it, has guts — goes back in time to the ’60s, to Briarcliff Mental Institution, and to the insanity of Catholic loons running a facility with gross narrow-mindedness and evil malice. Oh, and aliens — there’s those, too.
Murphy even exercises his musical flair with one of the season’s best scenes: the patients’ random dance break during “The Name Game.” Asylum was a descent into the deliciously disgusting corners of Murphy’s warped mind, and all of it brought to life (and death) by one helluva cast: Lange, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Dylan McDermott, Frances Conroy and James Cromwell, who won an Emmy for his role. They discuss their characters during a compendium of interviews. Other extras include the ridiculous/fun set tour “The Orderly,” a look at the production design and the series’ use of monster makeup.
Hannibal: Season One. The debut season of NBC’s Hannibal Lecter spinoff was as much about cannibalism as it was Hugh Dancy in his underwear. That’s not a plot spoiler; that’s a reason to watch. And there are many of those in this twisty creep show. Hannibal, from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, is a sickening mind game, where every dinner turns another carnivore into a strict vegetarian and where every interaction between FBI agent Will Graham (Dancy) and the iconic Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) gets a little gayer. Adding to the queer factor is Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall, who butches up as a crime-scene investigator. Uncut episodes, a peek into the series’ development and a humorous piece on the cannibalistic subtext are among the bonus features.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 25, 2013.