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Fringe: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray)

WARNER

SHOW B+

SPECIAL FEATURES B

DVD GEEK FACTOR 6.5

(OUT OF 10)

This sci-fi series from Lost creator J.J. Abrams gets off to a surprisingly gory start with its pilot, in which a plane full of passengers falls victim to some sort of toxic attack. It's surprising, because this is network-TV stuff (Fox, specifically), and people's faces melt off in a rather graphic fashion. It's definitely R-rated material.

The pilot sets up a sort of X-Files scenario, establishing an investigative team consisting of FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, an impressive actress), a crazy scientist named Walter Bishop (a funny and unnerving John Noble) and his mysterious son, Peter (a dramatically strong Joshua Jackson). The team investigates various bizarre phenomena, aka "The Pattern," and it leads to weekly, scary stories that should appeal to fans of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone.

The show is currently in its second season, airing Thursdays on Fox. It's worth checking out, and it's pretty addictive.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some writer-producer commentaries, plenty of featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes and more.


Manson

A&E

SHOW B-

SPECIAL FEATURES NONE

DVD GEEK FACTOR 5

(OUT OF 10)

Producers of this dramatic re-enactment of the Manson Family murder spree have Linda Kasabian, a member of the Manson cult, telling her story as the events are re-created. Some of the acting is a little hokey, but the production values of the re-enactments are passable, and Kasabian's testimony is interesting stuff. The show, which aired on the History Channel, does include some actual crime-scene photos, so parental discretion is advised.

Forty years after the events, the details are still unbelievably terrifying. I was born the year before this happened, and I can tell you that people were always talking about Manson and Helter Skelter in the '70s. Adam Wilson, who plays Charles Manson in the re-enactment, does a decent enough job. He's better than Jeremy Davies, who was terrible playing Manson in the Helter Skelter remake in 2004.

Other interviews woven into the show include Manson family member Catherine Share, lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Debra Tate, sister of Manson family victim Sharon Tate.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Nuthin'!


Drag Me to Hell (Blu-Ray)

UNIVERSAL

MOVIE B

SPECIAL FEATURES C

DVD GEEK FACTOR 6

(OUT OF 10)

Director Sam Raimi took a break from the Spider-Man universe and returned to what film geeks know him best for with this fast paced, intermittently scary, often funny horror film. Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a loan officer who refuses to give an extension to an old gypsy woman—and the old woman doesn't appreciate it.

Raimi does demons well, and the movie gives him plenty of reasons to depict screechy noises, gross fluids and freak-out moments. Lohman is a great sport, getting sprayed with all forms of vile liquids and enduring all sorts of physical situations. Justin Long does good work as Christine's long-suffering boyfriend; the final shot involving his face is a real winner.

Kudos to Lorna Raver, who plays the old gypsy woman Sylvia Ganush; she's willing to do positively disgusting things for the sake of good horror. Her discolored eye and her rotten, slimy false teeth make her a memorable movie monster.

While this film got some good reviews, it didn't exactly set the box office on fire, and that might not bode well for future Raimi horror ventures. He's been hinting at an Evil Dead IV forever now, and this film's lack of success probably didn't push him in the direction of continuing with the adventures of Ash.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The disc contains both the theatrical version and an unrated version. The unrated version gets away with more blood, but it isn't radically different from what we saw on the big screen. You also get a digital copy of the movie and production diaries that go behind the scenes of such effects as Christine's massively bloody nose. The diaries are cool, but that's the only extra—and it's not enough.


Child's Play (Blu-Ray)

MGM

MOVIE B-

SPECIAL FEATURES B

DVD GEEK FACTOR 6.25

(OUT OF 10)

The demonic doll goes high-definition just in time for Halloween, and the little bastard looks good. While the sequels are tedious, the original remains a fun watch. Brad Dourif is the perfect choice to play Charles Lee Ray, the killer whose spirit transfers into a goofy-looking doll. Once that transference takes place, the doll goes on a killing spree.

It's hard to believe this movie is more than 20 years old. It's also hard to believe that actress Catherine Hicks actually found professional work. God, she's terrible.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The disc comes loaded with various commentaries (including scene-specific commentary from Chucky himself) and many behind-the-scenes featurettes. The package comes with both a Blu-Ray and a standard DVD.

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