Creepshow: Season 1

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

RLJ/Shudder;
Horror;
$34.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Tobin Bell, Adrienne Barbeau, Giancarlo Esposito, Cailey Fleming, Jeffrey Combs, DJ Qualls, Bruce Davison, David Arquette, Dana Gould, Tricia Helfer, Scott Mescudi.

This original series of the Shudder streaming service continues the tradition of anthology horror established in the 1982 movie Creepshow directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, as well as the 1987 sequel written by Romero.

The new series, executive produced by Greg Nicotero of “The Walking Dead,” offers two short stories per hourlong episode, with six episodes in the first season. The series expands on the visual style of the films, which were heavily influenced by horror comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. Episodes frequently use comic book-style artwork for story introductions and scene transitions, as well as a vibrant color palette for the title designs and linking materials.

The shorts are a mixture of adaptations of existing stories and original material. They range from the downright disgusting to the generally creepy, typically offering a helpful metaphor to a real-life problem. For example, the first story in the first episode, “Grey Matter,” presents an allegory for the dangerous effects of alcoholism on friends and family, in transforming a drunk father into a monster who eats local pets and absorbs anyone he comes into contact with, causing him to duplicate and spread his numbers to the rest of society.

The back half of the episode is the charming “The House of the Head,” about a little girl (Cailey Fleming of “The Walking Dead”) whose dollhouse seems to be haunted by a strange miniature rotting head that causes the figures of the family to move while she isn’t looking (shades of the Weeping Angels from “Doctor Who”) leading to her discovering them in new poses of varying degrees of terror as she tries to figure out what is happening to them.

Those looking for a more comedic mix in their horror should like “The Finger,” which stars DJ Qualls as a loner who stumbles upon a weird demon-like creature that ends up doing his bidding in ridding the world of the people who plague his life.

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The Blu-ray is absolutely loaded with bonus materials, including several episode commentaries, featurettes for each episode and myriad behind-the-scenes galleries. There’s also a special featurette about the Easter Eggs in the episodes that reference the movies — and as a fun touch it’s set up like an unlabled old-school DVD Easter Egg you actually have to search for in the menus. It’s a nice touch that lends to the throwback nature of the series.

Warner Sets HBO’s ‘The Outsider’ for DVD and Blu-ray Release

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the first season of HBO’s “The Outsider” on Blu-ray and DVD July 28. The 10-episode limited series is available now to buy through digital retailers.

Based on the bestselling Stephen King novel, the mystery series follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. When 11-year-old Frankie Peterson’s body is found mutilated in the Georgia woods, police detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) sets out to investigate — with eyewitnesses and physical evidence pointing to Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), a popular high school teacher, Little League coach, doting husband and father. While the case appears ironclad, Ralph is baffled by the emergence of contradictory evidence that places his suspect in a neighboring city at the time of the murder. The mysterious set of circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, a seasoned cop still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable.

The cast also includes Bill Camp, Mare Winningham, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson, Yul Vázquez, Jeremy Bobb and Marc Menchaca.

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The Outsider: The Complete First Season DVD and Blu-ray will offer more than 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes bonus content, including the featurette “El Cuco. The Bab Yaga. The Outsider,” about the real-world origins and supernatural abilities of the being at the center of the story.

Other extras include the featurettes “Invitation to Set,” “Stephen King and The Outsider,” “Jason Bateman and The Outsider” “Adapting The Outsider,” “Analyzing Holly Gibney” and “The Outsider: Inside Episodes 1-10.”

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Update (4/27/20): The original street date of June 9 was changed to July 28 by Warner.

Doctor Sleep

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Horror;
Box Office $31.58 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use.
Stars Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Carl Lumbly, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Bruce Greenwood.

It’s not exactly a secret that Stephen King didn’t much care for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of King’s 1977 novel The Shining. King’s distaste for the film was even a plot point in the 2018 film version of Ready Player One.

So it’s a bit remarkable, then, that King, serving as executive producer of the adaptation of his 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep, would allow the film to quote so much of Kubrick’s work.

Somehow, director Mike Flanagan has managed to make a film that both faithfully follows Kubrick’s version of The Shining while reconciling the differences between the source material and the film that irked King to begin with. The result is one of the better King adaptations, a terse game of supernatural cat-and-mouse that manages to be far more interesting than other recent King-to-screen efforts such as the bloated It: Chapter Two.

Like the book, the film picks up the story of young Danny Torrance, the little boy tormented by his father in The Shining, as he grows into a troubled adulthood (where he’s played by Ewan McGregor). Like his father, Dan has descended into alcoholism, turning to booze to drown out the traumas of his experiences at the Overlook hotel.

But he has also learned to deal with the ghosts that sought him due to his telepathic powers, and after reaching rock bottom manages to sober up and get a job at a hospice, where he uses his powers to help the terminally ill die peacefully, earning the nickname “Doctor Sleep.”

His telepathy also puts him into contact with others with the shining power, including a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran). She alerts Dan to a cult of shiners led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who seek immortality by murdering innocent children to claim their youth.

Dan then must take steps to protect Abra when the cult decides to come after her next.

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Flanagan re-creates sequences from The Shining, albeit with different actors embodying the spirit of the original film, to effectively bridge the time gap between the two stories. The use of different actors can be a bit uncanny for those familiar with Kubrick’s film, especially if watched back to back with The Shining, since Flanagan admits he didn’t feel the need to go down the rabbit hole of digital re-creations of the original actors as long as he stayed true to the characters. He does a nice job matching Kubrick’s visual style, however, re-creating specific scenes and even using the original film’s music to good effect. Flanagan’s script also references plot elements of the second book that weren’t fully carried over into the film version.

As much as the film is a journey for Danny to reconcile traumas of his youth with the potential for using his abilities to help the world, so too it seems is it a chance for King to embrace the legacy of Kubrick’s version, which is often considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. In interviews before the theatrical release of Doctor Sleep, he spoke to elements of Flanagan’s screenplay that redeemed Kubrick’s version for him, and he echoes those sentiments in the home video bonus materials, in which he seems very much to have softened his stance toward the original film.

Indeed, the sequel does provide some deeper context for what transpired at the Overlook in the first film while giving Dan a chance to atone for his father’s demons.

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The Blu-ray includes a three-hour director’s cut, which runs about a half-hour longer than the theatrical cut. There aren’t really any scenes that change the meaning of the work, but the new material does give the story a chance to breathe by developing the characters a bit more. There are also more scenes of young Danny and his mother that take place shortly after The Shining, deepening Danny’s personal story and enhancing the film’s effectiveness as a psychological thriller while making it more of a bridge between King’s and Kubrick’s interpretations of the first novel.

Really, the director’s cut is the definitive version of the film, so anyone who hasn’t seen it should probably just start there.

The Blu-ray combo packs of Doctor Sleep include the theatrical cut on one disc and the director’s cut on another — so the 4K Ultra HD combo pack has just the theatrical cut on a 4K disc, with the director’s cut on a standard Blu-ray. The bonus materials are presented on the theatrical cut disc in both the 4K Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray combo packs. Each combo pack is only two discs, so the 4K pack doesn’t have a theatrical cut or extras on a standard Blu-ray.

However, the digital redemption code gives access to both the theatrical and the director’s cut, and all the extras as well, with the digital code from the 4K Ultra HD combo pack providing a 4K digital copy of the director’s cut.

Included are three featurettes running a bit more than a half-hour in total that are aimed at fans intrigued by the prospects of a King-approved sequel to Kubrick’s Shining. The 14-minute “The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision” deals with the general making of the film, the five-minute “From Shining to Sleep” provides an overview of how the filmmakers went about trying to connect the disparate movie and film versions of King’s vision, while the 15-minute “Return to the Overlook” focuses on re-creating the iconic sets of the first film.

Season Two of ‘Castle Rock’ on Disc May 19

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 19 (order date April 14). The season will be released for digital sellthrough Jan. 21. The Blu-ray will include a redemption code for a digital copy.

The disc release will include all 10 episodes from the second season of the Hulu original series about the small town that’s inhabited by author Stephen King’s most infamous literary characters.

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In season two, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes (Lizzie Caplan), from Misery, gets waylaid in Castle Rock. Local businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill (Tim Robbins) is dragged into the fight, when Pop’s nephew, legendary bully John “Ace” Merrill (Paul Sparks), stirs up trouble.

Season two also stars Barkhad Abdi, Yusra Warsama, Elsie Fisher and Matthew Alan.

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The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King stories such as Cujo, The Dark Half, It, Needful Things, The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

The season two disc includes the featurette “Annie Wilkes: Mother of Sorrow.”

‘Shining’ Sequel ‘Doctor Sleep’ Due on Digital Jan. 21, Disc Feb. 4

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the supernatural thriller Doctor Sleep through digital retailers Jan. 21, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 4.

A follow-up to 1980’s The Shining and based on the novel by Stephen King, Doctor Sleep continues the story of Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), 40 years after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel. Still coping with his childhood trauma, he encounters a teenager (Kyliegh Curran) who like him also has the shine power, who needs his help against the merciless Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality.

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The film earned $31.5 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray versions of the film will include Mike Flanagan’s director’s cut of the film, featuring nearly 30 minutes of new, alternate and extended scenes not shown in theaters.

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Extras on the Blu-ray include the featurettes “Return to the Overlook,” “The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision” and “From Shining to Sleep.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Doctor Sleep will feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack as well as both Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+

‘It: Chapter Two’ Stalks to Digital Nov. 19, Disc Dec. 10 Including 4K

The horror sequel It: Chapter Two will arrive on digital Nov. 19 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Dec. 10 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began with the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time. The sequel made $209.9 million at the domestic box office.

It: Chapter Two, based on the novel by Stephen King, stars James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, Bill Hader as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, James Ransone as Eddie and Andy Bean as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the role of Pennywise.

In the sequel, set 27 years after the Losers Club defeated the shape-shifting clown Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, people are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of It: Chapter Two will feature Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+, both sporting dynamic metadata for better picture, as well as Dolby Atmos sound.

Special features on the Blu-ray and 4K release include five featurettes and commentary with Muschietti. The DVD includes the five featurettes.

‘Pet Sematary’ Screening Is Cat’s Meow

Paramount Home Entertainment July 9 held an after-dark screening of Pet Sematary at a cat cafe in New York. Jeté Laurence, who plays Ellie in the film, introduced the screening for human and furry fans. The new adaptation of the Stephen King story is available now on digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and VOD. (Photos courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment)

New Horror Adaptation of ‘Pet Sematary’ Comes Home on Digital June 25, Disc July 9

The new adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary will arrive on digital June 25 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and VOD July 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It made $54.5 million in U.S. theaters.

Based on the King novel, the film follows the Creeds, who relocate from Boston to rural Maine, where they soon discover an ancient burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, the grief-stricken father is driven by the cemetery’s sinister power, setting off a perilous chain of events.

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The digital, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray releases include more than 90 minutes of special features, including deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, a look at the main characters, behind-the-scenes footage, and cast interviews. Digital extras vary by retailer.

The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray combo packs include access to a digital copy of the film.

‘The Shining’ to Terrify in 4K UHD Oct. 1 From Warner

Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining will come out on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digital Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The 4K remastering, done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, is of Kubrick’s original 144 minute version of the film which premiered in the United States May 23, 1980. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Kubrick’s former personal assistant  Leon Vitali worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process. May 17 the restored 4K version of the film will be screened at The Cannes Film Festival.

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The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel, was directed and produced by Kubrick, who wrote the screenplay with Diane Johnson. It stars Jack Nicholson in an iconic role as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duval as Wendy Torrance, Scatman Crothers as Dick Halloran, and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance. In the film, Jack Torrance becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy and his son Danny, who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

In 2018, The Shining was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  The film ranked 29th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and Jack Torrance was named the 25th greatest villain on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.  Additionally, the quote “Here’s Johnny” from the film was ranked 68th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.

The Shining Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the film in high definition and the special features in high definition, and a digital version of the movie. Fans can also own The Shining in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Shining will include more than three hours of previously released special features, including:

  • audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Kubrick biographer John Baxter;
  • “Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining”;
  • “The Visions of Stanley Kubrick,” a detailed look at one of cinema’s greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images;
  • “The Making of The Shining,” a cinema verité documentary offering a rare glimpse into the directing style of Kubrick as he interacts with Nicholson, Duvall and others;
  • “Wendy Carlos, Composer,” in which composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shiningand A Clockwork Orange.

Paramount to Bow 1989’s ‘Pet Sematary’ on 4K UHD in Time for Theatrical Release of Remake

Written for the screen by author Stephen King based on his bestseller, director Mary Lambert’s 1989 horror film Pet Sematary will stalk home entertainment on 4K Ultra HD combo pack and Blu-ray March 26 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The film, which earned more than $57 million to become the highest grossing horror film of the time, according to the studio, is being re-released in time for the debut of the studio’s theatrical remake April 5. The story follows the Creed family who, after their cat is accidentally killed, takes the advice of a friendly neighbor and buries it in a mysterious nearby cemetery. When the cat comes back, it’s only the beginning of an unthinkable evil.

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Pet Sematary will mark its 30th anniversary newly remastered in 4K under the supervision of Lambert with new bonus content, which includes the cast and crew of Paramount’s new adaptation discussing the original film’s impact and the lasting legacy of its story; a new interview with Lambert about her memories making the film, the restoration, and King’s enduring influence; and new photo galleries with behind-the-scenes images, original storyboards and vintage ads.

The 4K Ultra HD disc also features Dolby Vision.  For the 4K restoration, Lambert and Paramount went back to the original film negative to rescan it in order to recapture the original detail.

“The shadows are much softer and the colors are richer…and it looks amazing,” said Lambert in a statement.

In addition to the new bonus material, both the 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray feature access to a digital copy of the film and previously released bonus material, including commentary by Lambert, a guided tour of the locations led by King along with an exploration of the origins of the novel, an introduction to the cast and characters, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.