Director Sam Raimi made a name for himself (and boyhood friend Bruce Campbell) with a series of low-budget horror films that began in 1978 with "Within the Woods," a short college project that would chart the rest of his career. While that particular movie remains little seen, it led directly to the cult classic "Evil Dead" and its two sequels, "Evil Dead II" and "Army of Darkness," and forever cemented Sam Raimi as a bonafide member of the horror club.
So it was with some regret among his fans that -- as his career progressed -- Raimi drifted into other areas of cinema, most notably the billion dollar blockbuster "Spider-Man" franchise, and seemingly left his chainsaw and boomstick behind. That was until 2009, when he came roaring out of the gate with "Drag Me to Hell," the veteran filmmaker's return to the genre that made him a legend. The film stars Alison Lohman as a young bank officer who is hexed at the decrepit hands of a vengeful gypsie. Like most of Raimi's works, it's mixed with his personal flair and imbued with a sense of humor, while remaining throughout a very scary movie. "Drag Me To Hell" arrives on Blu-ray and DVD with only one true special feature -- that the "Production Video Diaries," a half-hour look at the making of the film. It's unfortunate that Raimi couldn't be persuaded to record a commentary, as it's always a treat getting inside his head.
Also out this week is Will Ferrell's underwhelming "Land of the Lost," a big-budget adaptation of the classic '60s television show. The film finds Ferrell as an intripid explorer who winds up underground in a mysterious land of dinosaurs and other assorted creatures (one scene with a creepy giant spider is particularly memorable). Filled with big special effects and lumbering CGI sequences, the comedy has its share of thrills, even if it didn't manage to set the box office on fire this summer. The Blu-ray and DVD editions hit with deleted scenes, feature-length commentary from director Brad Silberling, and various making-of featurettes.
The third wide release film hitting store shelves is "The Proposal," the romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. The pic features Bullock as a Canadian who betroths her personal assistant (Reynolds) in order to remain in the United States, all while attempting to hide the true nature of the relationship from her immigration officer. The film managed to become a surprise hit with its dash of comedy and personable cast, and now hits DVD and Blu-ray with an array of special features including audio commentary from the director, deleted scenes, on-set antics and an alternate ending which you can watch here on our Hollywood Crush blog.
Two other films new to Blu-ray this week are worth mentioning. One of my favorite titles of all time, "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," finally gets a decent release and in high-def no less. The feature-length version of the long-running Comedy Central series finds Satan launching an apocalyptic war on Earth and is subsequently one of the funniest comedies of the '90s. Long since stuck with a barebones DVD, we finally get something to sink our teeth into with a brand new audio commentary from creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Aside from that is a "What Would Brian Boitano Do" music video and theatrical trailers.
The other notable Blu-ray release is the director's cut of "Natural Born Killers," director Oliver Stone's gritty saga of two murderous psychopaths (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) on the lam and out for blood. It's a two disc affair, with the first featuring a new introduction from Stone as well as an audio commentary from the filmmaker originally recorded in 2008 for a previous Blu-ray edition. The second disc is what contains the meat, with a new documentary called "Natural Born Killers Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now," asking what would be different had the film been made today. We also get the "Chaos Rising" making-of doc included on the 2008 release, along with a series of deleted scenes, an alternate ending and an interview between Stone and PBS's Charlie Rose.
DVD AND BLU-RAY NEWS:
John Cusack's '80s classic "Say Anything" gets a 20th Anniversary Blu-ray on November 3, the same day Robert Downey Jr.'s "Two Girls and a Guy" arrives. Hipstery romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer" blossoms on December 22, while the year's surprise sci-fi hit "District 9" gets an appropriate December 29 release date.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was the year's biggest film and now we'll get one of the biggest Blu-ray and DVD releases. Also out in the '60s classic "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," "Blood: The Last Vampire" and Blu-rays of "Waterworld" and "Easy Rider."