Laserblast: Heroes & Horrors

There may be a dearth of new sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films released on home video this week, but television productions – both new and old – have rushed in to fill the vacuum. You will also find lots of “classic” horror film titles repackaged onto DVD – you probably don’t need me to tell you that these discs contain many flicks that are “classic” only in the sense that they are old.

NBC/Universal offer up the first season of their hit sci-fi show HEROES in both DVD (pictured) and HD DVD formats. The seven-disc DVD set includes all 23 episodes, plus behind-the-scenes featurettes, short documentaries, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, and the original pilot (which was altered at studio insistence before it aired). All in all, you get 1,035 minutes of material – hopefully enough to satisfy even the most eager fan.

Going from heroes to horrors, we have Season One of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORRORS in box set form. You can obtain Volume 1 and Volume 2 separately, or if you prefer the whole enchilada, there is the entire Season 1 box set(pictured).  The 14-disc set includes nearly 700 minutes of material. Besides the audio commentaries available on individual discs, the box set features a round-table discussion taped during the “Masters of Horror Director’s Dinner” at the Magic Castle; interviews conducted by series creator Mick Garris; and deleted scenes.

DARK SHADOWS: THE BEGINNING COLLECTION1 is a 4-disc set that includes 35 episodes from the first season of the classic ’60s soap opera, noted for its multitude of monsters. However, the show never really took off until its second season, when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) was introduced; until that point, the stories were in the Gothic tradition of creepy occurrences that turned out to have rational explanations. Early home video releases omitted these early episodes, so this is a chance for hard-core fans and completists to fill out the gap in their DVD collections. The box set includes introductions by and interviews with Alexandra Moltke, who played Victoria Winters, the governess who comes to the strange town of Collinwood and encounters spooky things. (Of course fans remember the character’s off-repeated introductory narration: “My name is Victoria Winters…”)

DAWN OF THE DEAD – the 2004 remake, directed by Zach Snyder (300) – gets the HD DVD treatment. The film is not bad – there are some good characterizations and performances – so it is worth checking out, even though it is no match for George A. Romero’s 1979 classic.

THE OUTER LIMITS, Season 1, Volume 2- a two-disc set of the original ’60s sci-f series- arrives today. A previous four-disc set included the entirety of Season 1, so this looks like an example of repackaging old wine in new bottles.

The rest of this week’s releases consist mostly multiple titles squeezed together into newly packaged sets. The best of the bunch if probably the “Ultimate Horror Collection,” a six-disc set that actually includes a batch of classic and cult titles that someone might conceivably want to own: THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1958), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960), THE WOLFMAN (1941), CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1963), SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973), and more. Of course, any self-respecting horror fan probably already has most if not all of these in his collection, so this set is really just for people looking for a grab bag of titles.

Other DVD packages include a Sci-Fi 100 Movie Pack, a Tomb of Terror 50 Movie Pack, a Boris Karloff Collection, a Lon Chaney Jr Collection, a Vincent Price Signature Collection, a Christopher Lee Signature Collection, a bunch of (laughingly titled) “Quality Horror” sets featuring Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Zombies, Beasts, and Monsters, and the Roger Corman Collection: Master of Low-Budget Horror.

Even die-hard fans of old movies and early horror icons may find this more than they can endure, but for those brave souls eager to explore, you can browse through the titles below. If you have trouble navigating through the items, try browing the store in a separate window.

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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