Ready for good, old-fashioned scares and frights — sans torture, gore and porn? Then “The Conjuring” is for you. Here’s a horror film that relies on editing and story line for its creepiness — it’s scares come from closing doors and creaking floors, much like the great horror films before special effects made it too easy to create chills. It revolves around real-life American paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse in Rhode island in 1971. It turns out the house was haunted by an accused witch, Bathsheba, who tried to sacrifice her children to the devil and killed herself back in 1863, and the Warrens must struggle long and hard to exorcise the house of the powerful demonic entity. The work of the pair inspired “The Amityville Horror.” Extras: “Scaring the “@$*%” Out of You” featurette. Blu-ray adds “The Conjuring: Face-to-Face With Terror” and “A Life in Demonology” featurettes. Vitals: Director: James Wan. Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaveras, Sterling Jerinsas, Marion Guyot, Steve Coulter, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 112 min., Horror, Box office gross: $135.355 million, Warner.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2011’s “Drive” wasn’t what most people expected: Yes it was dark, as was “Drive,” but it was way more sleazier, dirtier and weirder. There’s no likeable characters here nor any redemption, but there’s definitely a tour-de-force performance by Kristin Scott Thomas. Julian (Ryan Gosling), an American fugitive from justice, runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for his drug business. His mother, the head of a vast criminal organization, arrives from the U.S. to collect the body of her favorite son, Billy, who has just been killed after having savagely murdered a young prostitute. Crazy with rage and thirsty for vengeance, she demands that Julian produce the heads of the murderers. But first Julian must confront Chang, a mysterious retired policeman — called the Angel of Vengeance — who has resolved to scourge the corrupt underworld of brothels and fight clubs and to take down Julian and his operation. It’s bleak, crude and rude and, unlike “Drive,” has no redeeming qualities. Vitals: Director: Nicolas Winding Refn. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha, Tom Burke, Sahajak Boonthanakit. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Crime Thriller, Box office gross: $.775 million, Anchor Bay.
Some movies are an embarrassment of riches. Some movies are just an embarrassment. This one falls under the latter category. This comedy — about a pair of old-fashioned, outmoded salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) who talk their way into an internship program at the state-of-the-art Google campus, where they must compete against tech-savvy college students for a handful of jobs — is about as much fun as waiting for a long Windows 8 update to download and install itself. The only saving grace here is the spark between Vaughn and Wilson that was kindled during 2005’s “Wedding Crashers.” Extras: “Any Given Monday” featurette, commentary with Shawn Levy. Blu-ray adds deleted scenes. Vitals: Director: Shawn Levy. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, Aasif Mandvi, JoAnna Garcia, Jessica Szohr, John Goodman, B.J. Novak. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $44.422 million, Fox.
From the Big Screen:
“Before Midnight,” “The Conjuring,” “The Way, Way Back,” “Only God Forgives” and “The Internship.” For more releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
Heading up the must-have releases this week is “The Uninvited,” a very spooky and chilling horror film from 1944. A pair of siblings (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) from London purchase a surprisingly affordable, lonely cliff-top house in Cornwall, only to discover that it actually carries a ghostly price; soon they’re caught up in a bizarre romantic triangle from beyond the grave. Rich in atmosphere, “The Uninvited”, directed by Lewis Allen, was ground breaking for the seriousness with which it treated the haunted-house genre, and it remains an elegant and eerie experience, featuring a classic score by Victor Young. A tragic family past, a mysteriously locked room, cold chills, bumps in the night — this gothic Hollywood classic has it all. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. From The Criterion Collection). Speaking of horror, Scream Factory/Shout! Factory has released the Blu-ray version of “The Vincent Price Collection,” a four-disc set with the first-ever Blu-ray presentation of Price outings “Fall of the House of Usher” (1960), “The Haunted Palace” (1963), “The Masque of Red Death” (1964), “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961), “Witchfinder General” (1968) and “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (1971). Includes a 24-page collector’s book. Extras include a vintage and rare introduction and final words from Price; commentaries with Roger Corman, others; an audio interview with Price by historian David Del Valle; “A Change of Poe” interview with director Corman; theatrical trailers; still galleries, more. The Criterion Collection has given the Blu-ray treatment to the “John Cassavetes: Five Films Set,” with hi-def restorations of “Shadows,” “Faces,” “A Woman Under the Influence,” “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” and “Opening Night.”
From TV to DVD:
“Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear” (2013) is an anthology of five Chiller Network macabre short films on the human senses: “Smell,” “See,” “Touch,” “Taste” and “Listen.” On DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Scream Factory/Shout! Factory … “Kindred: The Embraced — The Complete Series” (1996) is a three-disc set with all eight episodes of the cult genre vampire series starring C. Thomas Howell, Mark Frankel, Jeff Kober and Kelly Rutherford. The collectible edition packaged in a special keepsake box including an exclusive edition of “The Book of Nod” (he sacred vampire text that inspired the series’ creation) and a letter to fans from series creator John Leekley. While investigating an alleged mobster, San Francisco police detective Frank Kohanek (Howell) discovers that his suspect is actually Julian Luna (Frankel), the undead “Prince of the City” and leader of five vampire clans collectively called “The Kindred.” Julian and Frank form an uneasy relationship, working together to prevent a vampire war, while Julian finds himself falling in love with Caitlin (Rutherford), a human reporter. $39.98 from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount … “Nikita: The Complete Third Season” (2012-13) is a five-disc DVD ($59.98) and four-disc Blu-ray ($69.97) with all 22 episodes, from Warner … “Primeval New World: The Complete Series” (2012-13) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes of the North American spin-off of the hit U.K. television series. When an invasion of prehistoric creatures threatens North America, visionary inventor Evan Cross assembles a team of highly-trained scientists and animal experts to battle the deadly predators and investigate the anomalies that brought them through time. On $29.98; Blu-ray Disc, $39.98. From Entertainment One.
“Intolerance,” D.W. Griffith’s 1916 silent cinema milestone, has been remastered in 2K by the Cohen Film Collection and will be made available on Blu-ray for the first time on Nov. 5. (A remastered DVD version will also be released).
Griffith changed the course of film history with his 1915 Civil War blockbuster “The Birth of a Nation,” and, spurred on by its colossal success, he went even bigger on his next epic, the ambitious and still awe-inspiring “Intolerance,” in which Griffith masterfully links four centuries-apart stories of universal suffering. Stung by charges of glorifying racism in “The Birth of a Nation,” Griffith decided to make his next film a plea for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. An epic like nothing that came before , the monumental film remains as powerful today as it was almost a century ago; the major innovation in screen narrative tells four stories in parallel about social injustice and the effects of intolerance through the ages.
“The Modern Story,” about a working man wrongly accused of a crime, was later issued as a separate film (“The Mother and the Law,” 1919). “The Judean Story” tells of Jesus’ conflicts with the Pharisees and Rome. “The Medieval Story” is about the effects of the massacre of 16th-century French Huguenots. “The Babylonian Story,” about the conquest of Babylon by Persia, also was issued later as a separate film (“The Fall of Babylon,” 1919). Skillful cross-cutting and linking shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood rocking a cradle, bring all four stories to a tense climax.
With the profits from “The Birth of a Nation,” Griffith spared no expense on “Intolerance,” constructing huge sets and hiring thousands of extras for spectacular crowd scenes; the most iconic representation of this lavishness remains the sequence set at the immense walls of Babylon. Many of the leading stars of the silent screen appear in the film, including Griffith regular Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Elmo Lincoln, Robert Harron and Constance Talmadge.
“Intolerance” proved to be an important training ground, with several of its assistant directors going on to important directing careers of their own, including Victor Fleming (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone With the Wind”), Allan Dwan (“Sands of Iwo Jima”), Sidney Franklin (“The Good Earth”) and Tod Browning (“Dracula,” “Freaks”).
The musical soundtrack for “Intolerance” is in mono for the DVD and 2.0 LPCM for the Blu-ray. Carl Davis’ orchestral score is in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Blu-ray and DVD extras include the two full-length features drawn from “Intolerance”: “The Fall of Babylon” and “The Mother and the Law,” accompanied by new scores by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra; a 2013 featurette with film historian Kevin Brownlow; new essays by Cineaste magazine editor Richard Porton and historian William M. Drew; and a theatrical rerelease trailer.
Based on the best-selling book series. A seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures Extras: “Bringing Them to Life” behind-the-scenes featurette, “Descendants of the Cup” featurette on the stunts and the cast’s transformation into Shadowhunters, “Almost Is Never Enough” music video by Ariana Grande, deleted scenes. Blu-ray adds “Interactive Lineage Tracker,” “Deadly Attraction” behind-the-scenes featurette with Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower on their roles as Clary Fray and Jace Wayland, “Entering the Shadow World” creatures featurette, “Into the Shadows: From Book to Screen.” Vitals: Director: Harald Zwart. Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Lena Headey, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kevin Zegers, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min., Fantasy Adventure, Box office gross: $31.046 million, Sony.
The magical, mythical adventures of teenager Percy Jackson — son of the Greek god Poseidon — continue in this sequel. Out to prove he’s not just a “one-quest wonder,” Percy and his demigod friends embark on an epic, cross-country journey into the treacherous Sea of Monsters, where they battle terrifying creatures, an army of zombies, and the ultimate evil. Their mission: to bring home the fabled Golden Fleece and save their dying safe haven, Camp Half-Blood. Based on the teen fiction book series by Rick Riordan. Extras: “Back to Camp Half-Blood” featurette, “It’s All in the Eye” featurette. Blu-ray adds Motion comic, collectible character cards, “Deconstructing a Demigod” featurette. Vitals: Director: Thor Freudenthal. Stars: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel, Anthony Head, Stanley Tucci, Sean Bean, Nathan Fillion. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 107 min., Action, Box office gross: $65.380 million, Fox.
A sensual and provocative drama about two lifelong friends who find unexpected happiness in relationships that cross the bounds of convention. An unpredictable tale of misguided love and a heartfelt celebration of the enduring nature of female friendship, “Adore” is the English-speaking directorial debut of Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Chanel”). Set in an Australian seaside town of otherworldly beauty, the film explores the intricacies of love, family, morality and passion as the two women become romantically involved with each other’s sons. Based on a novel by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing. Vitals: Director: Anne Fontaine. Stars: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Jessica Tovey, Gary Sweet. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 111 min., Drama, Box office gross: $.317 million, Paramount.
Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore, this mighty black and white mammal is like a two-faced Janus — beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. “Blackfish” unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who — unlike any orca in the wild — has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong? Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals. Extras: Extended interviews, AXS TV: “A Look at Blackfish,” theatrical trailer. Vitals: Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 83 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $2.043 million, Magnolia Home Entertainment.
Sequel to the surprise 2010 hit about costumed high-school heroes. Self-made superhero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and sweet-faced, foul-mouthed assassin Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) try to return to life as “normal” teenagers, but soon find themselves faced with their deadliest challenge yet. To seek revenge for his father’s death, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has re-invented himself as The Mother F%&*^r and assembled an evil league of super-villains. To defeat their new nemesis, Kick-Ass and Hit Girl must team up with a new wave of masked crusaders, led by the badass Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), in this battle of real-life villains and heroes. Extras: Extended scenes; “Upping the Game” featurette; “Going Ballistic: Weapons & Stunts” featurette; “Creating a Badass World” featurette; commentary with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz and writer-director Jeff Wadlow. Blu-ray adds alternate opening; “Big Daddy Returns: The Unshot Scene”; “An Ass-Kicking Cast” featurette; “Street Rules: Showdown at the Evil Lair”; “Hit Girl Attacks: Creating the Van Sequence.” Vitals: Director: Jeff Wadlow. Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Lyndsy Fonseca, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Lindy Booth, Yancy Butler. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 103 min., Action Comedy, Box office gross: $28.751 million, Universal.