- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Here’s a look at some macabre multimedia to provide at least a weekend’s worth of horror in preparation for Halloween.

To start off the festivities, younger ghouls will dive into a third-person fighting game, Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (from Midway Games for PlayStation 2, rated E for everyone, $29.99). Based on the bizarre Cartoon Network series about the friendly relationship between the Grim Reaper and a pair of dysfunctional children, the game enables up to four players to duke it out as the show’s characters in 20 interactive arenas.

Frenetic mayhem and gross humor rule in this silly fight challenge, brought to life through three-dimensional cel-shaded designs and the cartoon’s voice cast. All of the favorite stars eventually are available to control, including Grim, Mandy and Billy as well as Irwin, Dracula, Jack O’ Lantern, Boogeyman and underworld resident Fred Fredburger.

The game overdelivers on options and signature moves for hard-core fans, who can enjoy a short story mode along with battles in which players cooperate and others in which they fight each other, as well as more than 45 extra missions to unlock art content.

Although it is a robust and faithful tribute to the cartoon, the mindless slapstick violence that is doled out liberally on-screen could give parents nightmares.

On the topic of nightmares: A legendary serial killer gets a fantastic tribute through this immersive DVD set. A Nightmare on Elm Street: Infinifilm Edition (New Line Home Entertainment, rated R, $26.99) offers an extras-filled, interactive pair of discs highlighted by a digitally remastered version of the famed slasher film.

New Line goes way beyond the call of duty to deconstruct the Freddy Krueger legacy through multiple audio commentaries with director Wes Craven and a gaggle of production staff and actors — Robert “Freddy” Englund included.

A glorious Infinifilm option can be enabled during the movie that will prompt viewers to cut over to extra content — behind-the-scenes segments, interviews, alternate takes, etc. — before picking up where the film left off. A text fact track will reveal another level of trivia. Overall, this is what a DVD experience should be about.

But wait, Freddy fans, there’s more. As is the tradition with special New Line releases, the first DVD unearths more extras when placed into a computer. A fantastic script-to-screen module with multiple windows enables viewers to compare the movie against the text dialogue and shooting script with encyclopedic entry options.

Also, the difficult Don’t Fall Asleep Trivia Challenge has players explore the demise of the victims and dares contestants to answer timed multiple-choice questions.

The second disc continues to unload resources with another two hours of documentary-type specials and alternate endings.

After hanging out with Freddy, lovers of classic horror can celebrate one of the granddaddies of all monster films through the Frankenstein: 75th Anniversary Edition DVD set (Universal Home Entertainment, not rated, $26.98).

Mary Shelley’s favorite lug gets a digital dusting off in this two-disc homage that boasts commentary by a parade of film historians and experts. Analysis, anecdotes and fond memories arrive through a pair of optional audio tracks and multiple documentaries that cover not only the 1931 effort, but also the life of the man behind the monster, Boris Karloff.

My favorite feature is a short comedy titled “Boo” from 1932 that mixes cheesy humor and a bit of politics with scary movies from the day.

Finally, just because technology allows for it, fans of the tormented creature can hang out with a 5-foot-tall representation of him offered by Hammacher Schlemmer and Kurt S. Adler Inc.

Frankenstein’s Monster ($199) uses an internal motion detector, moving hip and arm joints, AC adapter with 6-foot-long cord and integrated speaker to come to musical life. Whenever nervous victims go near him, they are treated to a 30-second version of a permutation of “The Twist” called “It’s Halloween” as he moves to the music. The monstrous star is adorned with neck bolts, sutured scars, boots, an oversized green jacket and tattered clothes, and he collapses down to half his size for storage.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or ([email protected])

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