- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween comes once a year, but scary television shows are now in abundance year-round. Here’s a look at some of the best to binge-watch on Blu-ray while carving a pumpkin, working on some frightening tricks or devouring a bag’s worth of treats.

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $49.99) — Legendary B-movie actor Bruce Campbell (“B” as in bombastic) returned to his most famous role of Ash Williams last year to chainsaw and blast away the latest Deadite invasion in an episodic television show seen on the Starz cable network.

This 2-disc set compiles all 10, too-short, half-hour episodes of the debut season continuing director Sam Raimi’s popular horror-splatter movie franchise from decades ago.

With equal doses of humor and gore slathered with an enormous amount of blood and viscous innards, each episode explores Ash’s attempt to keep a demon plague (invoked again by the hero during a drunken encounter with the Necronomicon) from destroying humanity. He gets help from new pals Pablo (Ray Santiago), Dana (Kelly Maxwell) and the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless).

The graphic violence verges on cartoony but will still cause heart failure for those squeamish humans who dare watch the hilarious horror unfold.

Frightening extras: Viewers are blessed with an optional commentary track for every episode, often featuring the dry witticisms of Mr. Campbell along with informative dialogue from many of the actors and even a few key production personnel including the mighty Mr. Raimi stopping by for the first episode.


SEE ALSO: Blu-ray horror movie reviews: ‘Clown,’ ‘The Shallows’ and ‘The Wailing’


The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $79.99) — A fearless band of zombie apocalypse survivors learns that humans are much more dangerous than flesh-eating walkers in last year’s potent season of AMC’s popular television show.

This 5-disc Blu-ray set offers all 16 episodes in gore-ified, 1080p, high-definition digging into the fates of such stalwarts as fearless Glenn (Steven Yeun), ferocious Carol (Melissa McBride), deadly hunter Daryl (Norman Reedus), pacifist Morgan, blade-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira), pregnant Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and leader Rick (Andrew Lincoln).

Last year, the entire group worked with other humans to control a herd of zombies threatening to overrun their Alexandria fortress, fought off an attack by the villainous Wolves and confronted the Saviors, a clan of extorting land pirates led by the unforgiving Negan.

The show continues to impress through six years of complex survivor anguish, and binge-watching fans will find an ever-flowing amount of blood and guts from those reanimated corpses to re-appreciate.

Frightening extras: Lucky viewers get seven optional commentary tracks for select episodes starring production staff such as executive producer Scott M. Gimple, writer Angela Kang and make-up effects wizard Greg Nicotero along with actors Miss McBride, Mr. Reedus, Miss Cohan, Mr. Yuen and Miss Gurira, to name a few.

Also, viewers get an extended version of the episode “Last Day on Earth,” post-episode vignettes about the making of the shows (averaging 4 minutes each), and about 50-minutes worth of featurettes that include a look at the new villain Negan and a roundup of the most disgusting zombies seen in the season.

American Horror Story: Hotel (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $59.99) — The most shocking anthology show to ever run on network television returned to the FX channel for another season to explore the horrifying historical events happening at Los Angeles’ mythical landmark, the Hotel Cortez.

This 3-disc, Blu-ray set contains all 13 episodes of the show that presented a fantastic returning ensemble cast led by Sarah Paulson as drug addict Hypodermic Sally, Wes Bentley as L.A. homicide detective John Lowe, Kathy Bates as the hotel manager and Denis O’Hare as the feisty transvestite Liz Taylor along with newcomers Lady Gaga as the blood-sucking Countess and Mare Winningham as eccentric maid Hazel Evers.

This season is, again, not for the squeamish doling out a graphic visual assault of violence and sex as far as permissible for cable broadcast standards.

The most intriguing subplot stars former hotel owner James Patrick Marsh (Evan Peters), modeled after the real entrepreneur, serial killer H.H. Holmes. The guy basically built a torture chamber as a hotel. Mr. March appears as ghost throughout the series and hosts a ghoulish Halloween party attended by famous, deceased serial killers.

Frightening extras: The bonus content is shockingly deficient this season with only a pair of featurettes offering 8 minutes about the gorgeous interiors of the hotel and a 12-minute look at Mr. March’s bizarre bash held on Devil’s Night.

Preacher: Season One (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $65.99) — The graphic, 1990s supernatural comic book series from writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon finally became fodder for a bizarre but overtly violent television series on the AMC cable channel earlier this year.

The adapted story by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg stars the cigarette-smoking, whiskey-chugging preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) as a conflicted man with a violent past. He returns to his roots in a small Texas town hoping to make amends for his indiscretions but manages to get possessed by the offspring of an angel and a demon.

Now with the powers to persuade humans and creatures to do his bidding, Mr. Custer attempts to further save his congregation and find god — with help from an Irish vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) and wrecking machine of an ex girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) — during a 10-episode saga that made for some hard-core battles between good and evil.

Owners get the entire debut season on three Blu-ray discs with the adventures offering an intriguing and simmering mix of horror, black comedy and high-energy combat sequences.

Frightening extras: Besides some extended and deleted scenes, viewers only get a smattering of featurettes featuring a look a chainsaw battle, the stunts and an introduction to the brutal Angel of Death called the Saint of Killers.

Viewers also get a way-too-short (7.5-minute-long) overview of the series and its comic books roots with some words from Mr. Ennis. However, I would have loved a code to download a digital version of a few of the classic Preacher comic books.

American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $49.99) — The Emmy Award-winning, FX mini-series arrives to Blu-ray and chronicles the courtroom drama tied to James Orenthal Simpson, one of America’s favorite athletes and celebrities accused of murdering his former wife Nicole and waiter Ron Goldman.

All 10 episodes arrive, packed on 3 discs, and highlight some stellar performances from the ensemble cast including Cuba Gooding Jr. as the too-slick defendant, Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark, Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito and Courtney B. Vance, John Travolta and Nathan Lane as the Mr. Simpson’s legal dream team of Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro and F. Lee Bailey, respectively.

Not only does the series offer a scary study of one of America’s most famous sociopaths but a frightening indictment of the Los Angeles County Court system that will make a rationale human’s hair stand on end.

Frightening extras: First, a detailed and helpful interactive timeline covers key dates in the areas of “Pretrial,” “Prosecution,” “Defense” and “Rebuttal and verdict.”

Viewers peruse sliding screens triggered by the Blu-ray controller and select from clickable date hot spots, to read text entries about the case, with access to video clips from the shows.

Additionally, a 30-minute promotional featurette explores the case and show with help from legal analyst and author of the O.J. trial book “The Run of His Life,” Jeffrey Toobin, and key series actors and creators. I would have loved a much longer documentary with the real key players from the actual events being interviewed.

iZombie: The Complete First Season and iZombie: The Complete Second Season (Warner Archive Collection, Not Rated, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $39.98 each) — Viewers can catch up on one of the more clever young adult horror shows on television with a pair of Blu-ray sets compiling the first two seasons of a well-received series seen on the CW Network.

That translates into a total of 32 episodes loosely adapted from the Vertigo comic book series, showcasing the world of medical student Olivia Moore (Rose McIver), a gal who turned into a member of the undead and took a job at a coroner’s office to access her food supply. You bet, I am talking about the culinary delicacy of fresh human brains.

Now here’s the twist. Eating brains of the dead leaves her with some of their characteristics and memories and offers clues to how they were murdered. It made for an addictive crime-solving series with a zombie apocalypse twist while Olivia searches for a way to lead a normal life.

Frightening extras: Each season of Blu-rays offers deleted and alternate scenes from episodes and a roughly 30-minute look at the “iZombie” panels from the yearly San Diego Comic-Con featuring many of the actors and co-creator Rob Thomas of “Veronica Mars” and “90210.”


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