- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

With Halloween preparations in full swing for this weekend, here’s a trio of Blu-ray movie suggestions to set the mood for a mature evening of horror.

Carrie: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, Rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $34.93) — Director Brian De Palma’s Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel celebrates its 40th anniversary with an impressive return to Blu-ray in a two-disc set.

The nightmarish tale about a shy teenager with telekinetic powers (Sissy Spacek) pushed over the edge of sanity by an abusive, religion-obsessed mother (Piper Laurie) and high school bullies (including actors Nancy Allen and John Travolta) became a staple of horror aficionados, and is regarded by critics as one of the best films of 1976.

The Blu-ray set boasts a new digital 4k scan from the original negative to enhance the visual impact of Carrie’s supernatural powers — including the infamous, terrifying prom scene.

Frightening extras: Short of any current words from Mr. King and Mr. De Palma or an optional commentary track, the bonus content shines with more than three hours of interviews (six out of the eight are new) with many of the cast and crew, including screenwriter Lawrence Cohen, cinematographer Mario Tosi, editor Paul Hirsch and actors William Katt, Miss Allen, Betty Buckley and Miss Laurie.

Archival extras include a quick look at some of the film’s locations, a text gallery about Mr. King’s story origins and an overview at the disastrous Broadway musical based on “Carrie.”

The Hills Have Eyes: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, not rated, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $39.95) — Director Wes Craven’s 1977 survival horror genre-defining masterpiece returns to Blu-ray with an overwhelming amount of extras and a brand new 4K scan to excite diehard fans.

The disturbing story presents a vacationing family from Cleveland finding itself stranded overnight in the Nevada desert and fighting off a tribe of inbred mutant cannibals looking for loot and their next meal.

Some stupid moves by the family (like most of the males leaving to look for help) leads to plenty of suspense, unexpected gore and a few jump scares as those creepy humanoids take advantage of the terrain and darkness to isolate and attack their victims.

Most important to this release, the new digital scan (supervised by producer Peter Locke, no less) pulls from a 35mm print culled from the long lost original 16mm negatives. That means grain and contrast are our friends here — perfect for this level of 1970s exploitative and visceral action.

Frightening extras: The best of the bonus content includes three optional commentary tracks — first with actors Michael Berryman (Pluto), Janus Blythe (Ruby), Susan Lanier (Brenda Carter) and Martin Speer (Doug Wood); next with academic Mikel J. Koven; and finally with Wes Craven and Peter Locke.

Also, a nearly hourlong retrospective “Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes” features an excellent overview of the production with many of the cast and crew reminiscing and plenty of words from Mr. Craven.

Additionally, the sturdy packaging includes a full color and reversible poster (16 inches-by-20 inches unfolded), a 40-page booklet featuring archival color stills with an essay by film critic Brad Stevens, and six color postcards of various multilingual lobby cards of the movie.

The Thing: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, Rated R, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, $34.93) — The definitive version of director John Carpenter’s 1982 adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. novella “Who Goes There?” returns to high definition and will cause an outbreak of nail biting and dry heaves for its Blu-ray viewers.

A shape-shifting, parasitic extraterrestrial terrorizes a scientific crew stranded on an Antarctic research base in mid-winter and slowly slaughters each of them while assuming their forms.

A veteran ensemble cast draws the viewers into the suspenseful action: Kurt Russell (R.J. MacReady), Richard Masur (Clark), Richard Dysart (Dr. Copper), Keith David (Childs), Wilford Brimley (Blair), Peter Maloney (George) and Donald Moffat (Garry).

Take my word for it, Mr. Carpenter’s effort is by far one of the most claustrophobic and grotesque science fiction films ever made, and a clear choice for anyone looking for some offbeat scares this Halloween.

Better yet, the latest release offers a new 2K scan of the interpositive — supervised and approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey — to deliver the most authentic visualization of “The Thing” to date.

Frightening extras: Shout! Factory offers a near bottomless pit of memories for fans through new and previously released bonus material spread out over a pair of discs.

A trio of optional commentary tracks lead the way featuring a solo track with Mr. Cundey (new), a solo with co-producer Stuart Cohen (new) and one with Mr. Carpenter joined by Mr. Russell.

A second Blu-ray disc is packed with more than five hours of extras ranging from a fantastic, 90-minute archival documentary on the film; the entire network broadcast version of the movie; a breakdown of some of the gory transformations with visual effects and make-up effects team members; a look at the detailed storyboards of legendary comic book artist Mike Ploog; and a new 30-minute interview with Mr. Carpenter conducted by his filmmaking pal Mick Garris.

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