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Friday the 13th

Paramount Home Video
Movie: D-
Special Features: B-
DVD Geek Factor: 4 (out of 10)

Right up front, I want to make something perfectly clear. I hate this movie. I saw it once when I was 13 years old--Channel 5 in New York ran it uncut on late night broadcast TV--and it bored me to death. Still, it has a strange sort of value in horror film lore, and you gotta love the way a very young Kevin Bacon is dispatched.

The very worst of the iconic slasher movies, Friday the 13th is, was, and always shall be a terrible film. An ungodly hybrid of Psycho and Meatballs, this intentional Halloween rip-off shat 10 sequels (if you count Freddy vs. Jason, which was actually pretty good).

With the upcoming theatrical release of Marcus Nispel's remake/reboot, Paramount Home Video has repackaged the first three films, including an uncut version of the original (which also gets a Blu-ray), and a 3-D DVD for Part 3.

Most of you know the story: While trying to reopen a summer camp years after a tragedy where a boy was drowned and some counselors were massacred, a new killing spree by a mystery murderer occurs. The conclusion of that mystery is actually quite funny, and a total rip-off of Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. Jason, who would go on to murder like crazy in future installments (the infamous hockey mask didn't show up until Part 3), doesn't factor in the mayhem until the very end. There, I just ruined it for you. If you've never seen it, stay away.

In the film's single cool moment, the deformed Jason springs from a lake and capsizes a boat. Regrettably, that set the stage for the waterlogged nut to go on a rampage in future installments. To the franchise's credit, the movies improved from execrable to moderately awful by Part 3. I took a glimpse at the 3-D DVD, and it's sort of cool in moments.

If you love this franchise, and many folks obviously do, the new discs offer plenty for fans to absorb. For those who prefer Halloween and Freddy, Jason can be total torture.

Special Features: The disc has one of those "cheat" commentaries, where they string together a bunch of interview audio clips and try to pass it off as a commentary on the film. The words don't connect with the actions happening on screen, so it's pretty much a waste of time.

There's a reunion of some original cast and crew, featuring stars Betsy Palmer (who played Jason's mom), Adrienne King (the lone survivor) and horror makeup legend Tom Savini, who actually lent his expertise to the film (very possibly his worst work).


King Kong (Blu-ray)

Universal Studios Home Video
Movie: A
Special Features: B
DVD Geek Factor: 8.5 (out of 10)

It will always be a pleasure to revisit this film, and while the HD-DVD version is now extinct, we have it to cherish on Blu-ray, and that's a good thing.

Peter Jackson wanted to make this movie since he was nine years old. Some people think his three-hour plus film is over-indulgent, but I would've been OK with it being 47 hours long. It's a masterpiece, and while it has some flaws (the Jamie Bell subplot sucks), the flaws don't even come close to affecting the wonders of the experience. I maintain that this is the greatest technological cinematic feat of the new century. What Jackson did with motion capture and Andy Serkis is pure movie magic.

Naomi Watts is stunning stepping into the role of Ann, previously played by Fay Wray and Jessica Lange (actually, the role was called Dwan in the '76 version, but it had the same purpose). Watts does so much more than scream. She and Andy Serkis (playing Kong under CGI makeup) actually create a moving relationship between Beauty and the Beast.

The more I see it, the more I like Jack Black as Carl Denham, who truly is a bastard in this latest retelling of the story. But the true star is Kong, who never has a moment of unbelievability on screen. His expressions, his motions and his general being all seem very real. It never feels like Watts is being carried around by a bunch of gigabytes.

Special Features: The disc contains both the theatrical and extended editions. The extended cut contains what can be called some of the best deleted scenes in cinematic history, including an early dinosaur attack and some swamp mayhem. Both sequences would've worked fine in the film. Jackson and partner Fran Walsh provide an entertaining commentary, and there are some art galleries. If you want the definitive edition for special features, the standard Extended Edition DVD is still best.


Death Race

Universal Home Video
Movie: D+
Special Features: C
DVD Geek Factor: 2.5 (out of 10)

This movie made me long for the Roger Corman version. Any film that has you longing for a Corman movie is BAD NEWS. Jason Statham sucks, and I can't believe Joan Allen is in this thing.

Special Features: Commentary and some making-of bullshit.

More by Bob Grimm

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