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Headsup: Jokers, Singers, Killers, and Queens

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of the fourth title featured below. The opinions I share are my own.

Red-Christmas-Blu-rayIt’s almost Halloween, and what does that mean?  HOLIDAY SEASON IS COMING!!!!  A film drawing from both the spectacle of Christmas and the horror of Halloween is Red Christmas from Artsploitation Films (how much do we love that name?).  The cinematic debut of television director and actor Craig Anderson, the film tells the story of a family in a remote house during Christmas who must fight off a deformed and mysterious  attacker bent on revenge.  Starring genre icon Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T., Cujo, Critters), the film was an official selection at multiple festivals, including Fantasia Film Festival, Frightest: London, Buried Alive Film Fest, and Los Angeles Cine Fest.  Red Christmas is being released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 17 and offers a fair selection of bonus features.  Leading the extras are a director’s audio commentary, “Dee Wallace Speaks!” (a twenty-minute interview between Director Craig Anderson and Dee Wallace), and a ten-minute interview between Craig Anderson, Sam Campbell, and Gerald Odwyer.  Additional extras include a mini-interview (2 minutes) with Craig Anderson, a deleted scene, and a blooper reel.  Pre-order Amazon pricing on this one is pretty wonky as of this writing, showing the DVD available for $17.99 and the Blu-ray for $11.99… not sure if this is based on typos or what, but I’d say if this film is up your alley and you like having stuff on Blu-ray, grab it before someone makes a pricing correction.

Planes Tranes Automobiles Blu-rayA cheerier holiday film out now from Paramount (celebrating its 30th anniversary!) is the John Hughes classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on Blu-ray and DVD.  Starring the incomparable duo of John Candy and Steve Martin, the film follows a stuffy businessman (Martin) and a hapless salesman (Candy) as circumstance throws them together due to snags in their Thanksgiving travel plans. Heading the bonus features is “John Hughes: Life Moves Pretty Fast”, a twenty seven-minute retrospective on John Hughes and his approach to filmmaking, including interviews with people who knew and worked with him. Hughes himself is featured alongside Martin and Candy in a quick-witted press conference (dubbed “Getting There is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains and Automobiles”). Rounding out the extras are a three-minute montage tribute to John Candy, the four-minute featurette “John Hughes for Adults”, and a deleted scene about airplane food.  Fans should be aware, however, that the extras on this Blu-ray mirror those on the one released in 2012, so if you (or someone you’re gifting to) already own that one, you won’t be getting anything new.  For those who don’t already own it and would like to, you can head over to Amazon and get the DVD for $8.00 and the Blu-ray for $9.59.

dreamgirls extended cut blu-rayAnother Paramount release to consider is the Director’s extended cut of Dreamgirls, now out in a Blu-ray combo pack.  The film adaptation of a classic Tony-winning Broadway musical, Dreamgirls tells the story of three singers who rise to fame amidst the social turmoil of the 1960s, learning the often high costs of success along the way.  Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson, the film was a darling of Paramount and Dreamworks since before it was even released, with Dreamworks even paying the licensing fees (to the tune of $250,000) for all amateur stage performances of the musical in 2006 in order to create a pre-film buzz. Their investment paid off—- the film not only did well at the box office but also was highly celebrated, winning Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Grammy awards, among multiple others. This release not only includes ten additional minutes of footage in Bill Condon’s director’s cut, but also never-before-released footage of Jennifer Hudson’s audition and screen test for the breakout role that would launch her film career.  The Blu-ray set includes both the theatrical and director’s extended cut versions and is housed in a collectible book-style packaging that includes a photobook with images and lyrics from the film.  Fans can grab the Blu-ray set on Amazon now for $15.18.

Reign Season Four DVDFor those who enjoy a whirlwind of love, power, and betrayal, Reign may be just the series for you.  The series tells the story of Mary, Queen of Scots as she struggles to find her footing as queen of France and Scotland, all while navigating her own issues of life and love.  In Season Four, Mary steels herself to take back her country and establish herself as the ruler of Scotland, where many of the people still consider her a foreigner.  With her half-brother James, a bevy of suitors, and the machinations of Queen Elizabeth I to deal with, Mary must tread carefully to protect her throne, her legacy, and her life.  Out now on DVD is Reign: The Fourth and Final Season, which includes all sixteen episodes of Season Four.  Sadly there are no bonus features on this one (disappointing as there is SO much to talk about production-wise when it comes to historical / costume series), but there you have it.  Season Four is available on Amazon for $17.89 or digitally on Amazon and iTunes for $24.99.  Mega fans (or those shopping for them) may also want to consider Reign: The Complete Series on DVD, available on Amazon for $70.29 (although before you do check out pricing on the stand-alone seasons— currently they add up to around $60, so pricing-wise it may actually be cheaper to get the seasons individually).

Impractical Jokers Season FiveTurning from people struggling to hold power to people struggling to hold a straight face, Impractical Jokers follows the quartet comedy troupe The Tenderloins (Sal, Joe, Q, and Murr) as they compete in over-the-top challenges to embarrass each other, all while being recorded by hidden cameras.  At the end of each episode, the loser must endure an epic punishment, much to the amusement of the other three (and the viewers at home).  Impractical Jokers is the longest-running series on truTV and has already been renewed for a seventh season, set to air in 2018.  In Season Five, the four friends visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in New York, create mayhem at a pawn shop, and team up with Nitro Circus to face obstacle courses, high jumps, and more.  Now out on DVD is Impractical Jokers: The Complete Fifth Season, which features all twenty-six episodes across a four-disc set along with almost two hours of specials and deleted scenes.  Notable extras include the hour-long “British Invasion Special” (where the jokers travel to London to challenge each other in a pub, a fish and chips shop, selling theatre tickets in the West end, and other madness) and “Impractical Jokers: Inside Jokes” (with behind-the-scenes stories and pop-up facts covering fan-favorite episodes).  The DVD set is available on Amazon for $19.99.  You can also get the season digitally on Amazon for the same price, but it only features the deleted scenes in the extras, so I’d say if you’re a big fan grab it in disc form and laugh away!