Laserblast: Transformers, Planet Terror, Reaping

This is a big week for home video releases, but in spite of the Halloween season, you will find high-quality horror in short supply. Instead, the e-ticket item is the science-fiction blockbuster TRANSFORMERS, which arrives on DVD in a standard edition, a two-disc special edition, and on HD DVD. The extensive bonus features of the special edition include an audio commentary by Michael Bay (in which he discusses working with Steven Spielberg and talks about his ideas for TRANSFORMERS 2); storyboards; and three featurettes: “Our World” (interviews with Bay and Spielberg, illustrated with footage from the set), “Their War” (a look at the Decptions and Autobots), and “More Than Meets the Eye” (designing and staging the Skorponok scene).

Also making their debut on disc this week are PLANET TERROR and THE REAPING, which came out on the same weekend back in April. PLANET TERROR, of course, is the Robert Rodriguez half of the heavily hyped GRINDHOUSE double bill; THE REAPING is a more low-key occult thriller. Neither is particularly good, but it is interesting to note that despite the marketing muscle that tried to life GRINDHOUSE into blockbuster status, REAPING did just as well theatrically, even a little better.

The two-disc special edition of PLANET TERROR offers an extended unrated director’s cut of the film, which is virtually indistinguishable from its theatrical counterpart. (Despite the added footage, the gag about the “Scene Missing” remains, so you still will not learn what Wray revealed to the Sheriff that suddenly earned his trust.) THE REAPING arrives in three different disc formats: standard DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD.

The other theatrical genre film making its DVD debut this week is THE INVISIBLE, which disappeared (you should pardon the expression) from theatres almost immediately when released earlier this year. The film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL hits store shelves on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray disc. Although there is some continuity with 1999’s HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, the new film strikes a totally different tone, emerging as what might have happened if Lucio Fulci had directed RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. A direct-to-video release, the movie was shot to take advantage of digital disc “branching” technology, which at various points allows you to select what will happen next. The film offers 96 possible variations, which sounds like a lot,but that is not the same as 96 different endings; it’s really just 96 different possibilities of seeing the film with this scene or without that scene. If you watched RETURN once while selecting “yes” to every option, and then watched it again while selecting “no” every time, you would have seen all the footage. It’s a bit like ordering a hamburger with everything on it or with nothing on it; you create the variations by ordering with pickles but without mustard, etc.

The last title we will highlight this week is HOLLOW MAN, the disappointing 2000 film, with Kevin Bacon as a scientist who goes insane after turning himself invisible. The film has been available in various home video formats for some time, but now we get Paul Verhoeven’s director’s cut on both DVD and Blu-ray disc. We have not seen this version yet, but we feel it safe to say that the close encounter between the invisible Hollow Man and his beautiful neighbor (Rhona Mitra) has probably been restored to full length.

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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