If last week’s selection of Blu-ray releases heralded the waning days of summer, this week’s announce the onset of the fall. Specifically, between the release of a handful of monster movies and a roundup of critical favorites, it’s almost as if the home-video market made the transition to Oscar season (not to mention primetime for horror releases) overnight. Nevertheless, Blu-ray Collector is here to tell you which titles are worth actually copping, and which are best left at the bottom of a murky swamp (or probably, on the shelf at your local retailer).
The Bling Ring (Lionsgate Home Video)
The One-Liner: Sophia Coppola offers her third straight film about the boredom of rich white people with this true-life tale of a group of teens that steals from celebrities.
Picture Perfect? A superlative transfer perfectly preserves Coppola’s gorgeous, deliberately oversaturated cinematography, guaranteeing the characters look as pretty as the stars they look up to.
What Else Is There? One featurette offers behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew, while another explores the real-life crimes that inspired the film. Meanwhile, a third is hosted by Paris Hilton as she offers a tour of locations in her home that were robbed, offering an even more muddled message between validating and condemning celebrity worship.
How Badly Do I Want It? Unless you’re a super-fan of Coppola’s, this film merely repeats the filmmaker’s former glories, making it a rental candidate but hardly substantial enough to warrant a purchase.
Day of the Dead (Scream Factory)
The One-Liner: George Romero’s third zombie film arrives on Blu-ray in a beautiful new package with a virtual encyclopedia of content.
Picture Perfect? Although the disc boasts an all-new transfer of the film, differences between this and a 2007 version are nominal – which is to say, there’s slightly more refinement and clarity here, but nothing revelatory.
What Else Is There? A feature-length documentary offers an amazing wealth of entertaining insights about the production of the film, while a collection of commentaries and featurettes carried over from that earlier release ensure this is the most complete Blu-ray for the film yet released.
How Badly Do I Want It? Although admittedly the slightest – and frequently most forgotten – of Romero’s first zombie films, this set gives it the girth to make it a worthy addition to your Blu-ray collection, and might inspire reconsideration of the film.
The East (Fox Home Video)
The One-Liner: Brit Marling and Zal Batmaglij reunite for their follow-up to Sound of My Voice, this time following a young government agent who infiltrates an anarchist organization that takes revenge on irresponsible corporations.
Picture Perfect? Batmanglij’s camera work continues to grow in sophistication and complexity, and the Blu-ray highlights those qualities beautifully with a transfer that offers vivid, clear imagery.
What Else Is There? Deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette offer superficial insights into the making of the movie, but the absence of a commentary or more investigative interviews and features fail to satisfactorily explore the film’s intriguing premise.
How Badly Do I Want It? Although the film is an engaging thriller that stands proudly alongside the duo’s previous work, its presentation on home video offers too little material for it to be worth owning – which means it should definitely be rented.
Friday the 13th: Complete Collection (Warner Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Jason Voorhees’ 12 big-screen adventures come together in high definition for the first time, along with a collection of bonus features as numerous as the corpses he leaves in his wake.
Picture Perfect? Although the picture quality varies from film to film – owing more to production values than attention to detail in the transfers – overall this is the best most of these films have ever looked, or at the very least retain their superlative presentation from earlier Blu-rays.
What Else Is There? Other than a handful of commentaries and featurettes that mysteriously disappeared from a few of the titles, almost every film includes at least one commentary track, a making-of featurette or some behind-the-scenes material to offer additional perspective on how it was made.
How Badly Do I Want It? A couple of absent holy-grail features notwithstanding – including deleted material from some of the particularly butchered chapters, and a polarized rather than anaglyph (that is, red and blue lenses) 3D version of Part III – this set is as complete a collection as Friday the 13th fans will get, and it’s easily worth replacing your existing discs with this, that is, as long as you’re a big enough fan of the franchise, and not just a few installments.
World War Z (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Brad Pitt’s would-be box-office bomb survives a production apocalypse to become the most successful zombie movie of all time, even though it’s not much better than the cheaper ones it imitates (and that have much more to say).
Picture Perfect? Despite the fact that Marc Forster has not improved as a director of action since Quantum of Solace, the presentation of his cacophonous visuals is high-quality here – clean and vivid, both in 2- and 3D.
What Else Is There? A four-part, 35-minute documentary details the production of the film, albeit without spending much time on such details as Forster’s firing, and the scrapped and reshot ending. Although Forster said in recent interviews that not enough of that alternate ending was shot to even put it on the disc, given the various very public production woes, it seems like surely they could have assembled a storyboard version.
How Badly Do I Want It? A frequently fun roller coaster of a horror film, World War Z is not terrible entertainment, but certainly in comparison to its predecessors – much less lesser entries like the above-mentioned Day of the Dead – it’s at best a rental, especially without much information about its complicated production, which remains its most interesting quality.