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March Madness Edition
Twilight Time's Latest Reviewed

Universal’s 100th Anniversary series of DVD and Blu-Ray releases kicks into another gear this month with a number of new packages, including a cleaned up, and much improved, Blu-Ray of OUT OF AFRICA (***, 161 mins., 1985, PG; Universal).

Robert Redford stars as a British big game hunter whom writer Karen Blixen becomes enthralled with while helping her husband work on a coffee farm in Kenya; Meryl Streep essays the author, while Klaus Maria Brandauer is her philandering spouse. Together, they form a romantic triangle sumptuously filmed by director Sydney Pollack and cinematographer David Watkin, and beautifully scored by John Barry. The settings and photography remain the highlights of this Oscar-winning 1985 romantic drama, which tends to drag on at 161 minutes but always remains a pleasure to look at.

On Blu-Ray, its scenic attributes ought to be magnified, but that wasn’t the case with Universal’s first stab at bringing the movie to BD in 2010: that release’s VC-1 encoded transfer was overly processed with DNR and generally derided as a flat-out disaster.

That botched release, happily, has been rectified with Universal’s 100th Anniversary Digibook package of “Out of Africa”: the new AVC encoded 1080p transfer offers fine detail, no apparent use of noise reduction, and beautiful colors that add immeasurably to Watkin’s cinematography. This is the release that fans should’ve gotten a couple of years ago, and it’s complimented here by a DVD and the same extras from the prior video releases. Several minutes of deleted scenes are included (in SD) while Pollack delivers an informative commentary track on the making of the picture. Universal has also reprieved Charles Kiselyak’s fine documentary "Song of Africa," which includes interviews with Pollack, Meryl Streep, and Isak Dinesen biographer Judith Thurman. Film music buffs will certainly be interested in the comments of John Barry, who talks at length in the program about his score, the creation of the movie's central sweeping theme, and use of music in various sequences.

Also among the new 100th Anniversary releases is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack of Michael Cimino’s THE DEER HUNTER (***½, 182 mins., 1978, R), another Oscar-winner that, over time, has become somewhat less significant in terms of its place in Hollywood history. The latter is due to the sheer amount of Vietnam-themed films released in the decades since Cimino’s highly-regarded -- though at times painfully overlong -- film was released. Nevertheless, “The Deer Hunter” vividly captures time and place, is superbly performed by Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken, and brilliantly shot by Vilmos Zsigmond.

While Studio Canal’s overseas Blu-Ray offered a commentary from Cimino himself and several featurettes, Universal’s Blu-Ray package includes a commentary from Vilmos Zsigmond and film journalist Bob Fisher, along with about 12 minutes of deleted scenes culled from a workprint (in standard def). The 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer has been minted from the same source as an earlier HD-DVD release, showing a bit of DNR at times but otherwise is clean and shows a good amount of detail (it’s also superior to the Studio Canal overseas Blu-Ray with more balanced contrasts and less edge enhancement). The DTS MA soundtrack is perfectly fine.

Three new DVD-only editions are also a part of Universal’s retrospective titles this March:

CHARADE (114 mins., 1963) finds Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn entangled in an entertaining early ‘60s spy romp from director Stanley Donen, featuring a script by Peter Stone (“1776") and a breezy Henry Mancini score. Universal’s DVD includes a digital copy of the film, a 16:9 transfer, the trailer, and featurettes on the Carl Laemmle and Lew Wasserman eras at the studio.

MY MAN GODFREY (94 mins., 1936) was one of the defining comedies of the slapstick era, while Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake starred in Preston Sturges’ classic SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (91 mins., 1942), which – like “My Man Godfrey” –  is presented in a commemorative DVD with the same Leammle-Wasserman historical featurettes for extras.

Finally, Universal is bringing all three of the “American Pie” films to Blu-Ray in DVD/digital copy combo packs on March 13th.

The original AMERICAN PIE (96 mins., R/Unrated, 1999) was the first and best of the lot, following a group of high schoolers (Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott among others) looking to score with a high quotient of gross-out gags that had audiences at the time in stitches. The gang returned for the decent AMERICAN PIE 2 (105/111 mins., R/Unrated, 2001), which notably found original co-star Chris Penn’s role as Stifler’s father jettisoned, and the fairly feeble AMERICAN WEDDING (97/104 mins., R/Unrated, 2003), with Biggs marrying Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), the “Band Camp girl,” in another script by Adam Herz that seemed awfully tired the third time-around.

With a belated fourth installment (“American Reunion”) due out shortly (we’ll just forget about the myriad of awful direct-to-video sequels that Eugene Levy used as family paychecks), Universal has taken the opportunity to issue the first three films on Blu-Ray for the first time. The AVC encoded 1080p transfers are pretty good, all things considered (decent amount of HD detail), with all their special features (deleted scenes, commentaries, featurettes, music videos) ported over from prior releases.

New From Twilight Time

Jean Renoir’s first American film has been treated as a mere footnote in the director’s career for decades, yet Twilight Time’s Blu-Ray edition of SWAMP WATER (90 mins., 1941) ought to earn this unusual collaboration between the French filmmaker and Darryl F. Zanuck’s 20th Century-Fox regime some new admirers.

Scripted by “Stagecoach”’s Dudley Nichols, “Swamp Water” is an interesting, if not entirely successful, melodrama set in the backwoods of Georgia where the Okefenokee Swamp comes off as a character all its own (despite having only several minutes of location shooting produced there; the rest of the film was shot on soundstages and on the Fox ranch). Dana Andrews stars as a young man trying to break free from domineering father Walter Huston’s clutches; he’s able to do so by venturing into the swamp after one of his beloved hunting dogs goes missing. En route, Andrews runs into escaped fugitive Walter Brennan, hiding out after having been unjustly convicted of murder, and the two forge a relationship – one that also extends to Andrews courting Brennan’s daughter (a young, and fetching, Anne Baxter).

Renoir’s direction is superior to the material at-hand here, and as Julie Kirgo points out in her package essay, while the director’s vision was compromised by the studio (resulting in Renoir using numerous stand-bys from John Ford’s stock cast, as well as having to suffer an ending re-shot by producer Irving Pichel), there’s enough of Renoir’s artistry on-hand to mark it as far more than just an early ‘40s programmer.

Twilight Time’s Blu-Ray presentation is exceptional for a film of its age: the 1080p AVC encoded transfer is crisp and filled with detail, while extras include an isolated track of David Buttolph’s dramatic underscoring.

Also new from Twilight Time this month is a Blu-Ray edition of PAL JOEY (111 mins., 1957), a slick 1957 Columbia production of a popular ‘40s Broadway musical with a great Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart score.

I saw the musical on-stage at Goodspeed Opera House (in beautiful nearby East Haddam, Ct.) years back in a revival that approximated the original Broadway show. The lead character – an aspiring dancer – wasn’t particularly pleasant or sympathetic, using women as a tool to climb the ladder to success, making for a show that was atypical for its time.

When it came time to produce the movie some years later, changes were understandably made to John O’Hara’s original stories (first published in the New Yorker), especially once it became a vehicle for Frank Sinatra. Joey was now an aspiring singer instead of a hoofer, and while Sidney’s film retains enough of its source material’s feel so that Joey isn’t exactly a kind soul to the opposite sex, it’s been softened to a degree where its protagonist is more of a rascal than an unabashed jerk.

It’s a change for the better in terms of this 1957 film, which isn’t a classic (Joey’s plight still isn’t particularly compelling, despite the alterations), but nevertheless comes to life whenever one of Rodgers and Hart’s songs appear on the soundtrack: “The Lady is a Tramp,” “I Could Write a Book,” and “My Funny Valentine” are just a few of the duo’s classic songs crooned by Sinatra and the vocal stand-ins for co-stars Rita Hayworth (as a former stripper who enables Joey to run his own night club) and Kim Novak (as the “good” chorus girl who tries in vain to reform Joey’s ways). As Julie Kirgo points out, some of the songs aren’t from “Pal Joey” but other Rogers-Hart shows including “On Your Toes” and “Babes in Arms” among others, but they help to augment a film version, scripted by Dorothy Kingsley, that’s dated in its own way.

In addition to a lovely AVC encoded 1080p transfer culled from the Sony vaults, Twilight Time’s Blu-Ray offers a wonderful 5.1 DTS MA soundtrack that enhances the outstanding musical direction of Nelson Riddle and George Duning. The original trailer and a nice, albeit brief, ten-minute featurette on Novak off-screen circa 2010 round out another terrific TT release, sold exclusively at Screen Archives.

New on Blu-Ray

YOUNG ADULT Blu-Ray/Ultraviolet Digital Copy (*½, 93 mins., 2011, R; Paramount): Quite possibly one of the most depressing major studio releases to ever receive a national release around Christmas time, this reunion between “Juno” scribe Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman understandably failed to connect with audiences last December.

Charlize Theron plays a former prom queen turned writer of young adult novels who decides to reunite with old high school flame Patrick Wilson. Driving back to her small Minnesota small town, Theron’s plan has just one gigantic hitch: Wilson is happily married with a newborn, and he has no interest in her.

“Young Adult” might be deemed as “introspective” by some but I found it painfully slow and obvious. Theron does a good job playing a singularly unlikeable protagonist – so effective, in fact, that I couldn’t wait for her to finally be told off by Wilson and leave town. Cody’s screenplay was likely intended to be painful for viewers to watch, but it lacks any other dimension: Theron’s a freight train headed for disaster from the second she’s on-screen, and the film has no charm, no insight, as it barrels towards its inevitable conclusion. As one of Theron’s former classmates who was paralyzed in a “hate crime” incident, Patton Oswalt tries to give Theron’s character a bit of conscience, but even there the film goes right where you’d expect it to, especially once Oswalt discloses his sexual problems stemming from that attack.

Throughout “Young Adult” I kept thinking that this material might have worked had it been played more energetically, or with a black-comic flair a la the Coen Brothers. Cody and Reitman, though, are content to let it play out in a straightforward, melancholic manner whose mileage will strictly depend on the individual viewer’s tolerance for its lead character. As it is, I couldn’t stand her, or the film.

Paramount’s Blu-Ray includes a crew commentary, deleted scenes and two featurettes, along with a 1080p AVC encoded transfer, DTS MA soundtrack and Ultraviolet digital copy.

Ben Affleck’s taut, exciting Boston crime thriller THE TOWN (***½, 125 and 153 mins., 2010, R; Warner) returns to Blu-Ray this week in a terrific “Ultimate Edition” that offers both its theatrical version as well as a superior Director’s Cut that enables the film to “breathe,” thereby correcting some of the reservations I had about the picture when I first saw it theatrically. It also exclusively adds a never-before-seen, 10 minute alternate ending which is incorporated into its own platter within the Extended cut.

Even more impressive than his prior “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town” is a flavorful examination of a group of thieves led by Affleck’s conflicted soul and his hothead friend (Jeremy Renner), who brazenly abducts a bank teller (the fetching Rebecca Hall) during a heist. The group lets her go, but worries that she’ll talk lead Affleck to strike up a friendship intended to generate information that ultimately turns into a full-fledged relationship between them; meanwhile, the local crime boss (Pete Postelthwaite) forces Affleck and Renner to handle one last score by knocking over Fenway Park, while the FBI (led by “Mad Men”’s Don Draper, Jon Hamm) closes in on them all.

“The Town” isn’t a revelation as far as its genre goes, but it’s nevertheless well-acted, superbly directed and memorably written with Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard adapting Chuck Hogan's acclaimed novel “Prince of Thieves.” Hall is terrific, Affleck is believable, Renner is intense, Postelthwaite adds another villainous role to his long line of characters, and Haam brings equal weight to his part of the FBI agent suspicious of Affleck and his gang. “The Town” mixes character development with suspense and a number of crackling good action sequences, including the Fenway climax that’s superbly executed on a visceral level.

Affleck’s longer Director’s Cut lingers on a bit at 153 minutes but overall it adds more depth to the characters than the more confined 125 minute theatrical version allows. Both versions are on-hand in Warner’s Ultimate Blu-Ray combo pack, presented on a single BD-50 platter with DTS Master Audio sound. The transfer looks every bit as solid as what I saw theatrically, though tech junkies have noted that both versions, being put on the same disc, suffer because of a low-bit rate encode that could’ve been improved upon. That said, I’m just going by what I see, and overall I doubt most HD viewers are going to detect any shortcomings with the presentation. The Extended Cut with alternate ending, meanwhile, is housed on both its own Blu-Ray and DVD in the three-disc package, offering a similar 1080p transfer with DTS MA audio (and a higher bit-rate that’s not appreciably any better than the regular Blu-Ray).

Extras include new goodies (a brand-new documentary on the film plus “Ben’s Boston”) and fine extras from the prior release, including thoughtful commentaries by Affleck on all versions, a number of solid behind-the-scenes segments, an Ultraviolet digital copy and assorted film prop reproductions: a 15-page FBI report, four mug shot cards, a rub-on tattoo sheet, a letter from Affleck, a 48-page behind-the-scenes photo book, and a poster-sized map reproduction of Charlestown, Mass. with notes from the film incorporated. Recommended!   

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN Blu-Ray/DVD (***, 99 mins., 2011, R; Anchor Bay): You’ve got to hand it to Harvey Weinstein, who seems to be single-handedly purchasing the Academy Awards for his own output, which in 2011 included the well-received “The Artist” and decidedly less so “The Iron Lady” and “My Week With Marilyn” – two films that nevertheless earned Best Actress nominations for its respective stars Meryl Streep (a win many claim was due to Weinstein’s typically hard-core lobbying) and Michelle Williams.

Williams’ turn as Marilyn Monroe, though, wasn’t entirely convincing to me in this pleasant, if slight, British-made drama documenting life on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl,” where a third-assistant director (Eddie Redmayne) befriends the troubled Hollywood icon at the start of her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. Offering her the chance to live a little off the set, Redmayne’s Colin Clark is able to get a glimpse of the troubled soul underneath the facade in a script penned by Adrian Hodges and based on Clark’s own real-life story.

Simon Curtis’ film isn’t a particularly remarkable or memorable outing, but it’s still entertaining, doesn’t overstay its welcome at just over 90 minutes, and gives movie buffs an irresistible behind-the-scenes look at a film crew that included, among others, star Laurence Olivier (here played by Kenneth Branagh in a fun if underwritten role), producer Arthur Jacobs and cameraman Jack Cardiff. The performances of Branagh, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper and a brief cameo from Derek Jacobi are all strong, and while Williams obviously tries hard here, she’s more successful in her quiet turns as the “Norma Jean” persona inside the mega-star than in conveying the alluring sex appeal of Marilyn herself, which I didn’t feel she believably rendered.

Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray includes a commentary with Curtis and a featurette, plus a fine transfer and DTS MA soundtrack along with a DVD copy.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS 3-D Blu-Ray/Blu-Ray (**½, 110 mins., 2011, PG-13; Summit): Though badly reviewed and a fizzle at the box-office, Paul W.S. Anderson’s stylized rendition of “The Three Musketeers” is actually pretty fun – especially if you catch it in its intended 3-D presentation.

Recalling more the Disney early ‘90s “Musketeers” than the Richard Lester version, Anderson’s free adaptation of the Dumas story from writers Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies stars American teen Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan with Matthew MacFadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans as the Muskeeters. The quartet take on the conniving Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) and Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), who – along with Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) – are plotting to take over France from naive young King Louis III.

Anderson, best known for his neverending “Resident Evil” series, gives you exactly what you’d anticipate in this version: plenty of action, contemporary dialogue, and a fair amount of entertainment along the way. The film, shot in 3-D, looks fetching and the depth-of-field effects are quite good. Younger viewers are most likely to enjoy the film, but it’s still a good bet for anyone with a 3-D capable Blu-Ray player.

One thing that’s certain: Jovovich’s reported claims that Summit sank the movie’s box-office potential through a lack of advertising is at least partially substantiated when looking at the artwork in this Blu-Ray set. The picture of Lerman holding his sword against a photo-shopped image looks like the stuff of direct-to-video fare, and doesn’t at all approximate the film’s actual quality. The 3-D transfer is dynamic and the dual-disc set also includes a regular Blu-Ray plus extras including Anderson’s commentary, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production. Paul Haslinger’s score is a mixed bag in the DTS MA soundtrack, acquitting itself well whenever it’s not aping one of Hans Zimmer’s scores from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.

TO CATCH A THIEF Blu-Ray (***, 106 mins., 1955, Paramount): A gorgeous AVC encoded 1080p presentation – flawlessly rendered here on Blu-Ray by Paramount without a hint of DNR – of the memorable Alfred Hitchcock-Cary Grant-Grace Kelly teaming also includes a mix of materials from its prior DVDs: a commentary track from Dr. Drew Casper replaces an earlier (and superior) commentary by Peter Bogdanovich and Laurent Bouzereau, while a Bouzereau-produced documentary recounts the production of the 1955 French Riviera romantic thriller. Other extras are ported over from the two-disc 2009 release including an Edith Head retrospective, galleries and the trailer. The film’s soundtrack is offered in both its original mono as well as a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo remix.

NEVERLAND Blu-Ray (169 mins., 2011; Vivendi): Another interesting and visually arresting modern fantasy take on fairy-tale fare from writer-director Nick Willing is in line with his past productions “Tin Man” and “Alice.”

This 2011 two-part mini-series, which aired to solid ratings domestically on the Syfy Channel last December, attempts to show how Peter Pan and Captain Hook ended up in Neverland, and while you can’t help but shake off the memories (both bad and good) from Steven Spielberg’s “Hook,” there are times Willing’s script is more compelling. Certainly the cast is terrific, with Rhys Ifans serving up Hook and Charlie Rowe a likeable Peter. Q’Orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas in “The New World,” here playing Tiger Lily), Anna Friel and Charles Dance add support to Willing’s story, with even Bob Hoskins showing up in a brief reprisal of Smee, the same role he played in “Hook.”

While a bit overlong, “Neverland” is nevertheless highly entertaining, and Vivendi’s Blu-Ray includes a splendid 1080p transfer with a number of extras including commentary from Willing and a handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes. The DTS MA soundtrack is also nicely handled.

9 ½ WEEKS Blu-Ray (**, 117 mins., Unrated, 1986; Warner): Adrian Lyne directed this Zalman King production – a big-screen Cinemax After Dark movie starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger as detached New Yorkers who immediately become physically attracted to one another after a chance encounter. The duo then engage in a sexual relationship that becomes harder for them to live with – especially the kinkier it becomes.

Lyne would do fine work in his breakout hit “Fatal Attraction” just a year later, but it’s clear that “9 ½ Weeks” was mostly the product of King, who also co-wrote this slow-going erotic drama that generated a good amount of controversy back upon its initial release. These days, the presence of Basinger and Rourke proves to be more alluring than the tepid screenplay, which results in a tedious and emotionally uninvolving film.

Warner’s Blu-Ray of this 1986 Producers Sales Organization release (which MGM distributed theatrically to weak box-office grosses) looks aged but untouched from DNR. The DTS MA 5.1 soundtrack is merely passable, sporting a blah Jack Nitzsche score.

Roger Corman Corner

A disposable Roger Corman production for the Syfy Channel, CAMEL SPIDERS (85 mins., 2011, Not Rated) isn’t likely to go down as one of the career highlights for Corman – even as his B-fare genre projects go.

This recent thriller stars Brian Krause as an army captain who joins forces with C. Thomas Howell’s small-town police chief to defeat a group of massive, animal-sized spiders who are inadvertently transported from the battlefields of the Middle East to small-town U.S.A.

While the premise might sound like it has shades of “Arachnophobia” (now there’s a film deserving of HD remastering), “Camel Spiders” is routine, by-the-numbers “Movie of the Week” fare with hum-drum special effects and a silly story.
Folks who enjoy watching these Syfy originals might get sufficient kicks out of it, but that’s pretty much it.

Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray of “Camel Spiders” includes a respectable 1080p transfer and Dolby TrueHD soundtrack (no extras are included).

Much more entertaining is the forthcoming CORMAN’S WORLD (89 mins., 2011), a celebration of Corman’s 60-plus years of filmmaking, which Anchor Bay brings to Blu-Ray on March 27th.

This A&E co-production from director Alex Stapleton provides a rich overview of Corman’s decades of moviemaking with ample clips and interviews provided from stars and directors whose careers he helped launch, from William Shatner to Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Peter Bogdanovich among many others. Whether it’s in a discussion of his ‘70s drive-in favorites or ‘60s Poe adaptations, this is a hugely entertaining program that ought to satisfy Corman fans as well as casual movie-goers, all of it tightly edited and colorfully presented.

Anchor Bay’s Blu-Ray includes extended interviews, a trailer, “Special Messages to Roger,” a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack and a 1080p transfer.

New From BBC

OCEAN GIANTS DVD/Blu-Ray (176 mins., 2011; BBC): Informative, three-hour BBC documentary benefits from marvelous underwater photography from veteran cameramen Doug Allan and Didier Noirot, who give viewers some amazing, up-close-and-personal views of dolphins and whales in their natural environment. This recent BBC doc hits DVD this week in a standard DVD package with a Blu-Ray copy of the program included as a special bonus. Recommended!

MI-5: Volume 10 DVD (360 mins., 2011; BBC): The final season of the acclaimed BBC import finds Harry contemplating the future of Section D, from its tenuous relationship with the CIA and the Russian secret-service, to the fallout concerning Lucas North that was revealed at the end of the prior season. Fans of “MI-5" will likely be enthralled with this final collection of episodes – which BBC releases this week on DVD in fine 16:9 transfers and stereo soundtracks – yet also saddened by the conclusion of this well-received British espionage series.

Quick Takes

THE TRIBE Series 1, Part 1 DVD (aprx. 10 hours, 1999; Shout!): Viewers in North America are likely unfamiliar with this New Zealand import about a post-apocalyptic world where kids and teenagers have to fend for themselves after a virus wipes out all adults.

“The Tribe” mixes “Lord of the Flies” with “Mad Max,” a bit of “Degrassi” and even an old ABC “Afterschool Special” as it shows how kids band together and attempt to survive in a world without parental supervision. Aimed at younger viewers, “The Tribe” is an interesting series that met with a great amount of success in its native New Zealand, though after a handful of “series” (and hundreds of episodes), it was ultimately canceled before apparently reaching a conclusion.

Shout!’s first domestic DVD release of “The Tribe” includes the initial 26 episodes of the series in reasonably good looking transfers and mono soundtracks.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S THE LEGEND OF AWESOMEST MAXIMUS Blu-Ray (91 mins., 2010, Unrated; Image): Jeff Kanew’s career was minted when he helmed the ‘80s comedy fave “Revenge of the Nerds,” which led to several Touchstone projects including the underrated Kirk Douglas-Burt Lancaster comedy “Tough Guys” and the unfortunate Kathleen Turner bomb “V.I. Warshawski.”

Looking back, those days must seem long ago for the veteran director, because “The Legend of Awesomest Maximus” is a feeble “Gladiator” spoof that makes “Meet the Spartans” (remember that dumb comedy? didn’t think you would) look like comedy gold by comparison. Here, “MadTV” alum Will Sasso stars in the title role with “90210"’s Steve Sanders, Ian Ziering, playing “Testiclees.” If that wasn’t enough to keep you away, I should add that Rip Torn contributes a cameo as well.

Image’s Blu-Ray of this unfortunate direct-to-vid blunder includes a 1080p transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Needless to say, skip it!

BARBIE IN A MERMAID TALE 2 DVD (74 mins., 2012; Universal): Barbie’s back as “Merliah,” the mermaid princess who doubles as a surfing champion in an all-new CGI animated movie for kids. Universal’s DVD includes outtakes, a music video, trailer gallery, 16:9 transfer and 5.1 soundtrack.

GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL: Season 2, Part 1 DVD (aprx. 10 hours, 2009-11; Image): 13 episodes from the first half of this “Ghost Hunters” spin-off’s second season finds Barry Fitzgerald, Dustin Pari and the gang examining the allegedly haunted Wicklow’s Gaol; Skeleton in the Closet; Gates to Hell; Witches Castle; Spirits of Italy; Holy Ghosts; Hitler’s Ghost; Silver Shadow; Quarantine Station; Port Arthur Penitentiary; Tasmania Death Sentence; San Lucas Prison; and Legend of Rose Hall. 16:9 (1.78) transfers and stereo soundtracks are on-tap in Image’s four-disc DVD set, which also includes never-before-seen footage.

A pair of Luchino Visconti’s Italian “neorealist” classics, BELLISSIMA (114 mins.) and LA TERRA TREMA (160 mins.) have been fully remastered in new E one Special Edition DVDs. Both films include crisp B&W 1.33:1 transfers (the same restorations which have been released overseas) in Italian with English subtitles.

A teen with baggage (Shanley Caswell) heads to a disciplinary camp where trouble follows her in the oddly titled SNOW WHITE: A DEADLY SUMMER (90 mins., 2012, PG-13), which co-stars “Brady Bunch”’s beloved Marcia, Maureen McCormick, along with Eric Roberts in a routine thriller from David DeCoteau. Lionsgate’s DVD includes a commentary track plus a 16:9 transfer and 2.0 stereo audio.

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