Laserblast: My Name is Bruce; Friday the 13th – the Series; The Lodger; Tales from the Darkside

Last week, we saw a slew of old titles hitting DVD store shelves in anticipation of the new Friday the 13th flick, which actually doesn’t open until this week. The only new Fridaytitle coming out today is not a feature film featuring Jason Voorhees but the second season of the television series. Instead, for some reason, Warner Brothers has decided it’s right bat-time to cash in on the Dark Knight, with reissues of old DVDs plus a couple of two-disc special editions. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in theatrical motion pictures making their way to home video, you will have to be satisfied with a couple of essentially DTV titles that received small platform releases: MY NAME IS BRUCE and THE LODGER.

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My Name Is Bruce (Image DVD & Bluray)
We don’t claim to know exactly how much Bruce Campbell is enough, but the answer is likely to be found somewhere in this release, which appeared briefly in some Landmark Theatres last year on its way to your local store shelves. Since starring in Sam Raimi’s breakthrough The Evil Deadin 1982, Campbell’s very name has become genre fanboy shorthand – our very own secret handshake that says “Yes, friend, I too have the Evil Dead films 5 times each on every possible format”. Campbell has cannily built up his visibility with numerous convention visits, and even a book where he reflects on the ups and downs of being a big fish in a small pond; while this has certainly given his career a boost (a major role on USA’s popular Burn Notice nicely supplements his $40 autograph fee at conventions), it has also turned an actor into a celebrity hired to bring in his patented ‘Campbell shtick’ to any given project. Though the title unwisely recalls the 1982 Kung Fu comedy They Call Me Bruce?, it’s an appropriate choice as Campbell not only stars-in, produces and directs the film – he also plays a Larry Sanders-ish version of himself who’s recruited by the citizens of Gold Lick to battle an ancient Chinese demon awakened by… oh, forget it. The beyond-ludicrous plot only serves as a launching platform for the Bruce Campbell self-reflexive humor delivery system (BCSRHDS©), and we wish him well; whatever its faults, My Name is Brucetruly is a movie made for his fans. Extras include a commentary track by Campbell and producing partner Mike Richardson, in addition to several detailed making-of featurettes and galleries. Click here to read Cinefantastique Online’s interview with Campbell about the film.

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Friday The 13th: The Series – The Second Season (Paramount DVD)
The second season of one of the very best horror series arrives on DVD his week, and though disappointingly devoid of extras, the quality of the second season is comparable to the first (only the third and final season, when John D. LeMay was replaced by Steve Monarque as 21 Jump Streetreject Johnny Ventura, disappoints) and puts the show at the top of the horror heap. Show regulars LeMay, Robey, and Chris Wiggins were all more comfortable in their roles as the proprietors of the Curious Goods antique store, honor bound to collect the cursed objects distributed by the shops former owner, and continued their easy rapport established in the first season. Standout episodes include “Scarlett Cinema,” featuring a movie camera that can release movie characters into the real world, and “The Sweetest Sting,” featuring vampire bees that transfer the lifeforce of a victim.

Hitchcocks THE LODGER

Hitchcock's THE LODGER

Lodger, The: A Story Of The London Fog (MGM/UA DVD)
For anyone interested in the development of Alfred Hitchcock as a filmmaker, 1927’s The Lodger is essential viewing. The plot performs a quick rewrite on the Jack the Ripper legend, centering on a boarding house in London owned by the Bunting family, who have just rented out the top floor apartment to a rather mysterious stranger on the same night that the latest victim of “the Avenger”, a serial killer stalking young blond women, has been found. As a silent film, The Lodger is an often-discussed, but rarely seen Hitchcock that lays out what would become his standard psychological touchstones; particularly the relationship between sex (typically in the form of young, blond women) and death and the fear and paranoia of a hunted man.

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The recent remake

Though the story has been “unofficially” adapted numerous times, it was superbly remade in 1944 by John Brahm (featuring a towering performance from Laird Cregar) and again this year in a DTV release starring Simon Baker and Alfred Molina which appears day and date with the Hitchcock film. Extras include a making-of featurette, commentary with film historian Patrick McGilligan, 2 musical scores written for the film in the late 90s, and a real jewel – a 1940 radio play of the story directed by Hitchcock himself.

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Tales From The Darkside: The First Season (Paramount DVD)
It’s hard to believe that there was once a glut of horror anthology shows on television. Nearly 20 years after The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits ended their respective runs, the success of George A. Romero’s Creepshow showed that Americans had reacquired their taste for the short-form horror tale with an EC Comics twist in the tail. Because Warner Bros held the rights to the title, Romero and his producer, Richard Rubinstein, brought the format to syndicated television under the title Tales From the Darksideand provided after-11pm filler (along with Monsters, Friday the 13th, and the truly ghastly Freddy’s Nightmares, et al) for local stations for the next decade. Though occasionally enlivened by guest stars (the first season features Fritz Weaver, Keenan Wynn, Danny Aiello, a young Christian Slater, and the improbable Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), it was continually hobbled by weak scripts and junky production values (e.g., limited each story to two locations) – qualities that didn’t improve in its subsequent seasons. Paramount is releasing the first season on DVD this week, and the studio deserves points for bothering to include a commentary track by Romero, though it’s likely that the track is limited to episodes that he had direct involvement with.

Other releases this week include DRAGONBALL Z: SEASON 8; a Bluray disc of the cult film DONNIE DARKO; DEATH NOTE 2, a sequel to the anime-inspired DEATHNOTE; a remastered edition of the 1931 SVENGALI, starring John Barrymore; and the aformentioned BATMAN discs.

About the Author

Drew Fitzpatrick

By day, Drew Fitzpatrick toils at publishing in the black heart of Manhattan. But by night, he dons a pair of fetishistic black leather gloves and grinds out the "Internet’s only horror-themed Blog": The Blood-Spattered Scribe.

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