- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

Several DVD labels do their beastly best to ensure a scary couchside Halloween weekend via a wide range of choice vintage terror titles. They’re our

DVD picks of the week

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment kicks off with a trio of weird winners, all tagged at $14.94:

Boris Karloff is tunnel-visioned intensity personified as a mad doctor with a good cause (curing cancer) but an unorthodox methodology (killing his test subjects) in 1940’s scientifically shaky but genuinely eerie The Man With Nine Lives.

Burgess Meredith chews the atmospheric scenery as fear-mongering fortune teller Dr. Diablo in the 1967 British anthology Torture Garden, featuring four tales of the occult, with old hands Jack Palance and Peter Cushing squaring off in the last and best episode, “The Man Who Collected Poe.”

In 1988’s Pulse, starring Cliff De Young, possessed circuitry causes hitherto harmless household appliances to turn on their human owners in a high-voltage fright film filled with literally jolting effects.

Warner Home Video offers these entries:

Giant blue-screen bunnies hop amok in the ultimate bad-hare-day horror flick, 1973’s notorious Night of the Lepus, featuring Janet Leigh, freed at last from the Warner vaults for a shocked world to see.

Donald Cammell’s highly recommended, seriously chilling 1977 techno-thriller Demon Seed stars Julie Christie as the victim of a power-mad computer voiced by Robert Vaughn. ($19.97 each.)

And more:

Blue Underground (blue-underground.com) re-animates a brace of top Euro thrillers this week, “Italian Hitchcock” Dario Argento’s suspenseful 1970 mystery The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (two-disc, $29.95), feathered with a plethora of extras, and Antonio Margheriti’s 1973 Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye ($19.95).

Empire Pictures lightens the terror tone a tad with the long-running Canadian creature-comedy series The Hilarious House of Frightenstein Vol. 1 ($14.98), a four-episode disc hosted by Vincent Price and Bobby Van.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, WGBH Boston Video offers a bounty for public television buffs via three new sets, including a pair of “Masterpiece Theatre” specials:

The Romance Collection (four-disc, $79.95) assembles the classics Anna Karenina and Wuthering Heights, plus the contemporary Reckless and Reckless: The Sequel.

The Charles Dickens Collection (three-disc, $59.95) gathers David Copperfield, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

The five-disc The Mystery! Collection ($59.95) yokes three Touching Evil 1 titles with Second Sight 1 and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: A Great Deliverance.

A&E; Home Video likewise ventures across the pond with the eight-disc Horatio Hornblower Collector’s Edition ($79.95), containing eight TV movies plus a ship full of extras, from historical documentaries to contemporary interviews.

Also from A&E;, an animated Brit super-spy returns in Danger Mouse: The Complete Seasons 3 & 4, while aliens bedevil the Scottish highlands in the superior BBC sci-fi series Invasion: Earth (two-disc, $29.95 each).

The label also gives Canada its due via The Kids in the Hall: Complete Season 3 (four-disc, $59.95), with Kids’ commentary and previously unseen footage.

Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment goes the spooky route with the supernatural-themed Point Pleasant: The Complete Series (three-disc, $39.98). Buena Vista Home Entertainment emphasizes action with its bonus-laden Alias: The Complete Fourth Season (six-disc, $59.99), and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment travels back to the black-and-white ‘60s with Bewitched: The Complete Second Season (five-disc, $39.95), with 38 episodes, plus a vintage blooper reel.

The ‘A’ list

Sony also debuts the new movie Bewitched ($28.95), starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, complete with audio commentary by director Nora Ephron and deleted scenes, along with the femme slasher sequel Single White Female 2: The Psycho ($24.96).

In a dead-ahead Halloween vein, Warner Home Video introduces both Paul Schrader’s Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist ($24.98) and the Paris Hilton meltdown House of Wax ($28.98), an in-name-only remake of the 1953 Vincent Price 3-D chiller.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment looks for laughs via the talking-car comedy Herbie Fully Loaded ($29.99), showcasing Lindsay Lohan and packed with bonus features, from director’s commentary to featurettes.

Collectors’ corner

James Cameron’s box-office juggernaut sails again in Titanic: Special Collector’s Edition (Paramount, $29.99). The three-disc set carries an impressive cargo of featurettes, interviews, commentaries, deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

“Oz” enthusiasts get their wish come true via Warner Home Video’s The Wizard of Oz: Three-Disc Collector’s Edition ($34.94), proffering 13 hours of bonuses, from multiple documentaries to the restored 1925 silent version starring Oliver Hardy.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Why can I not find The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) on video/DVD?

Richard Olivarez, Bolling AFB, DC

While it hasn’t joined the digital ranks yet, that Western is still available on VHS ($14.24) via Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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