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The Wolfman (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

While I still think Joe Johnston was the wrong director for this reboot of the classic Universal monster franchise, there's no denying that the werewolf-transformation scenes are quite good, even if Rick Baker's finished makeup looks a little goofy at times. Benicio Del Toro is decent as the man with canine undertones—but it is Anthony Hopkins who steals the show as his insane daddy.

The film is set in 1891; filmmakers wisely made it a period piece, and therefore get to play up the classic gothic angle. This results in some beautifully shot, creepy night scenes, and a great sequence wherein De Toro's character is imprisoned in a primitive insane asylum.

The movie is very gory, which gives it a strange feel; it's sort of an homage to the original Wolfman, which, of course, didn't have much along the lines of bloodletting. Just when you think you are watching a re-creation of an old-school, bloodless monster story, Del Toro knocks somebody's head off.

The transformation scenes are a mixture of CGI and traditional makeup. I loved the way Del Toro's fingers and jaw would snap and contort; the whole process has a lot in common with An American Were-wolf in London (still the best werewolf movie). The hairy headpiece Del Toro wears as the finished Wolfman is perhaps a little too big; the wig looks mighty fake, and there's something about the mouth that bugs me. It's too stiff.

Johnston has provided a 119-minute unrated director's cut on the Blu-ray, which played marginally better than the theatrical cut—thus the slightly higher grade. I didn't love this movie (it tends to drag in parts), but it has its moments.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Set aside some significant time to take in this Blu-ray package, because it's packed. You get U-Control, which offers up all sorts of background stuff while you watch the movie. Deleted and extended scenes include a longer transformation scene and a crazy moment in which the werewolf winds up at a costume ball, with everybody thinking he's just a costumed guest—until he tears someone apart. It's a silly moment, but it's interesting to see. Alternate endings reveal that the script may have had a much darker conclusion for one of the main characters. Throw in a bunch of documentaries on the making of the movie, and you get a very solid Blu-ray.

The Virginian: The Complete First Season





(OUT OF 10)

While most of the TV-viewing population would list Westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza as the seminal genre classics, this long-running show might've had the best production values of them all. Broadcast on NBC from 1962-1971, each episode was 90 minutes long.

The show was based on the classic novel of the same name, set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The episodes could get a little melodramatic at times, but James Drury was a sturdy star in the title role, and I have no complaints about watching the great Lee J. Cobb in a starring role during the first season. The show wasn't afraid to address dark subject matters. An early moment in the first episode has a child asking one of the town's residents if they enjoyed the latest lynching.

The DVD set contains the entire first season, and the newly restored show looks great. Every episode was shot in full color, and the first season had a tremendous lineup of guest stars including Bette Davis, George C. Scott and Ricardo Montalban. (KHAN!)

SPECIAL FEATURES: While the special features include only some interviews with cast members, I'm still giving the DVD a high Geek Factor, because it contains more than 39 hours of programming, a very nice collectable tin and a cool book in which to hold the 10 DVDs.

The New Daughter (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Here is further evidence that Kevin Costner needs to take a serious break from cinema, step back and figure out how he can continue without further damaging his reputation.

This straight-to-video garbage represents a new low for the former megastar. I watched this awful horror film in disbelief, and was reminded of Joan Crawford's fall from grace when she started appearing in crap horror flicks toward the end of her career.

Costner stars as a dad who moves his kids out to the country and—wouldn't you know it—into a house that was built a bit too close to an Indian burial mound. Some creatures rape his daughter one night; she starts acting all weird and bothered, and Costner couldn't appear more embarrassed.

Perhaps he should start working on a Field of Dreams sequel. Heck, another Waterworld would be better than this.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A director's commentary and a behind-the-scenes look.

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