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A Nightmare on Elm Street (Two-Disc Infinifilm Special Edition)

New Line Home Entertainment
Movie B+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

I remember how this one gave me a severe case of the creeps when it came out. I also recall how the repugnant child-killing character of Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund) became a one-liner-dispensing joke in sequels that would follow. Honestly, I've only enjoyed the character in this film, New Nightmare and the over-the-top Freddy Vs. Jason.

It's good to see this one getting a nice treatment. Krueger was the ultimate boogie man when he began haunting the nightmares of Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), Tina (Amanda Wyss) and Glen (Johnny Depp, in his screen debut) 22 years ago. Freddy was nothing but evil in Wes Craven's original vision. Yes, he let off a couple of one-liners, but nothing like the stuff that would qualify him as somewhat of a clown in films 2-6.

Still creepy are the blood-spouting bed and Tina's body-bag excursion in the high school hallways. The acting, with the exception of Depp and Englund, isn't all that great, but Craven was at the top of his game here, so flaws are accepted. This one came out during a great stretch for American horror films that included Craven, John Carpenter and Sam Raimi on a roll.

This was the film that turned New Line Cinema into a player, something that would come to fruition when the studio greenlit and produced the Lord of the Rings trilogy 17 years later.

Special Features: I hate commentaries that are just compilations of interviews played over the film. One of the audio channels actually does this, with Craven and other participants offering various soundbites via interviews, not talking over the film. It turns out a fifth audio channel offers a more traditional commentary with Craven, Langenkamp and other participants, although it is a holdover from a prior DVD edition. Still, if you never bought the film before, it's cool to have the commentary now. This DVD follows the Infinifilm format, which can be a pain to navigate at first. Once you figure out where the features are, they are pretty good. New documentaries that study the film and Craven's career, deleted scenes and plenty of alternate endings make this a decent purchase, even if you own the older edition.

SCTV: Best of the Early Years

Shout Factory
Show B
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (ardent SCTV fans only) (out of 10)

Shout Factory continues to deliver the SCTV goods with this "for fans only" edition of early material. Before the show made it to NBC as a 90-minute program, it was a 30-minute program in Canada. It was syndicated, and some of this material showed up on the NBC show in its first year, but most of this should be new to those who only saw the show in its later years.

There's no Martin Short and lots of Robin Duke. The original Great White North shorts are here, as are Count Floyd, Guy Caballero, Edith Prickley and Johnny LaRue. The 15 episodes span from 1978 to 1980, right before they became an American phenom.

Much of the material is kind of dated. The cast had a little budget to work with, and this material leans heavily on some of the weaker players like Duke and Tony Rosato. Still, it's fun to see the character origins, and most of this dated material is better than any of the sketch comedy coming out these days. Again, this one is probably best for diehards only.

Special Features: Joe Flaherty and Duke stop by for some episode commentary. There's a behind-the-scenes tour of SCTV's home for 20 years at The Firehall, and Andrea Martin takes a look back at her years with the show. There's also a rather terrible archive news segment about the McKenzie Brothers craze.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)

Dark Sky Films
Movie B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

They just keep releasing this one again and again and again. It's a good film and all that, but nothing warrants buying it every time it's released. I imagine this one is out again because the new Chain Saw movie is coming out, so it's time to capitalize.

There's a new transfer, and the film looks pretty good. That it looks good sort of defeats the purpose a little bit, because the raw documentary feel is what works so well for the movie. It still looks dirty enough, so it's not really an issue. If they try to clean it up any more than this, it would be a mistake.

You all probably know the plot by now: Guy with a chainsaw cuts people up and puts hooks through their backs. I recall that I didn't like this one too much when I first saw it, but have grown to near loving it over the years.

Special Features: If you don't own any prior editions, this is definitely the one to get. It features some great documentaries, including the previously released The Shocking Truth and a new one called Flesh Wounds. There's new commentary from some of the actors and the art director, as well as an older one from director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl and Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface).

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