Phantom of the Paradise: Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) – Brian De Palma’s wild rock and roll remake of Phantom of the Opera by way of Faust, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and The Count of Monte Cristo plays like a decadent glam inversion of Jesus Christ Superstar. Paul Williams (who also wrote the dynamic, Oscar-nominated score and songs) stars as Swan, the evil record tycoon (in the opening scene he parodies Marlon Brando from The Godfather) who steals a rock and roll cantata from a sad sack singer / songwriter (William Finley), who transforms into vengeance-filled, hideously scarred monster in love with ingénue Jessica Harper. This outrageous, over-the-top fantasy, done up in real De Palma style (his love of split screen technique finds a new outlet in the video monitors of Swan’s voyeuristic headquarters), is a spirited satire with wild rock and roll numbers and his most sensitive love story.
Shout Factory’s transfer is from a new HD master and released under their Scream Factory imprint, and they do something novel with the Blu-ray+DVD Combo edition. There are so many supplements in this edition, most of them created for this edition by Shout and all of them new to American home video, that they are split between the two discs.
So you get the two exclusive commentary tracks – one with stars Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, and Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor and Peter Elbling (aka the Juicy Fruits), the other with production designer Jack Fisk – on the Blu-ray along with generous new interviews with director Brian DePalma and star / composer Paul Williams and a short piece with make-up artist Tom Burman (focusing on the distinctive mask), plus 26 minutes of alternate takes (presented in split screen to compare to the footage used in the film) and seven minutes of outtakes (showing changes made to cover a post-production change in the name of the record company).
The DVD features the balance of the supplements. The 50-minute documentary “Paradise Regained,” which features interviews with De Palma, producer Edward R. Pressman, and stars Williams, Harper, Graham, and the last William Finley, and the 72-minute interview with Paul Williams conducted by Guillermo Del Toro were both featured on the British Blu-ray released by Arrow earlier this year and licensed for this disc, along with an interview with an archival interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton and a little 30-second clip with William Finley and the Phantom action figure. New to this release are interviews with producer Edward R. Pressman and drummer Gary Mallaber, a guide through the poster design by the artist’s widow, and Gerrit Graham reading a bio he wrote for the film’s press kit.
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music – 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited (Warner, Blu-ray) – More than just a concert film, Woodstock is a record of a cultural event: “Three days of peace and music,” as the subtitle reads, a chronicle of both the music and the community that formed around it and lived together in peace for three days on Max Yasgur’s farm. It’s the music that everyone remembers and the film is a time capsule of pop music and youth culture of the era. But the filmmakers spend almost as much time observing the audience as they do the musicians and it charts the evolution of the event over the course of the weekend: three days in three hours. That’s the dynamic that helped the film win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and the reason it remains such a vital artifact more than forty years later.
The Director’s Cut was originally released to Blu-ray in 2009 for the festival’s 40th anniversary. This edition includes all of the extras from that release – which includes “Untold Stories” (18 bonus performances from Joan Baez, Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, plus Paul Butterfield, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Johnny Winter and Mountain, who played at Woodstock but never appeared in any film version) and the 76 minute “Woodstock: From Festival to Feature” – plus 14 more performances previously unseen performance by Santana, The Who, Crosby Stills and Nash, Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Melanie, and Sha Na Na. The box also tosses in some other goodies: a reproduction of Woodstock Festival tickets, articles from Life Magazine and The New York Times, and a re-issue of the Woodstock logo iron-on patch. Groovy!
The Grace Kelly Collection (Warner, DVD) boxes up six of the glamorous star’s most popular films: Mogambo (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), The Country Girl (1954), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955) and High Society (1956), plus a bonus disc featuring her last TV interview, Princess Grace de Monaco: A Moment in Time, and an envelope filled with postcard-sized reproductions of movie posters, stills and other memorabilia.
She earned her sole Oscar for The Country Girl, playing opposite Bing Crosby. My favorites on the set are Mogambo, a remake of Red Dust with Clark Gable reprising his role opposite Kelly and Ava Gardner, and the two Hitchcock movies. In Dial M For Murder she is a socialite targeted by her pathologically jealous husband (Ray Milland) who turns the tables on her attacker and ends up accused of murder, and in To Catch a Thief she’s an American heiress in France trying to trap Cary Grant, a retired cat burglar suspected in a number of recent jewelry thefts. Also features commentary on To Catch a Thief by Peter Bogdanovich and Laurent Bouzereau, plus a number of featurettes, archival shorts and other goodies, all carried over from previous DVD releases.
Also new and notable:
Curtains (Synapse, Blu-ray, DVD), a 1983 horror starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar and Linda Thorson, has been remastered from original vault elements in 2k resolution for the Blu-ray debut. The special edition features commentary by actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynn Griffin, an alternate audio track created from interviews with producer Peter Simpson and actress Samantha Eggar, and the new retrospective featurette “The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making of Curtains.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the archival featurette “Cupka: A Filmmaker in Transition” featuring behind-the-scenes footage from the film.
Without Warning (Scream Factory, Blu-ray+DVD Combo), an extraterrestrial horror film with Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Cameron Mitchell and Ralph Meeker, features commentary by producer / director Greydon Clark and a featurette with new interviews with cinematographer Dean Cundey, co-writer / co-producer Daniel Grodnik, special make-up effects creator Greg Cannom and actors Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXX (Shout Factory, DVD) collects four more episodes of the show that talks all over the movie: The Black Scorpion from 1957, Outlaw (of Gor) aka Gor II with Jack Palance, The Projected Man and It Lives By Night. With featurettes, bonus interviews, and four mini-posters among the supplements.
The Big Chill (Criterion, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, DVD)
The Ong Bak Trilogy (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD
Marty (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Separate Tables (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Paris Blues (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
Duel at Diablo (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Man Who Knew Too Little (Warner, Blu-ray)
The Full Monty (Fox, Blu-ray)
Green Ice (Scorpion / Kino Lorber, DVD)
Grizzly (Scorpion / Kino Lorber, DVD)
Aloha, Bobby and Rose (Shout Factory, DVD)
At War With the Army (Film Chest, DVD)
The Complete Blind Dead Saga (Blue Underground, DVD)
Sorcerer (Warner, DVD, Digital HD)