The Shelf: The Funhouse, Pete’s Dragon and Chernobyl
By Brian Walton on October 16, 2012
The Shelf is Nerdist’s weekly look at the new titles hitting Blu-ray and homes every week. This week we’ve got invisible dragons, 3D flying dragons, a forgotten ’80’s horror gem, and a quiet ’70s child romance shot like a nature documentary.
One of Tobe Hooper’s lesser-known works, this 1981 horror flick is a stylish mix of slow-burn horror and what would ultimately become the slasher formula. Two teenage couples make the rash decision to stay overnight inside a carnival haunted-house ride after lying to their parents, smoking pot, flashing nudity, and even stealing… you’ll probably guess what can and indeed must ensue. Sharing themes with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – evil lies beneath the surface of classic Americana, and families will stay loyal to even their most messed-up and deranged kin – it’s a lot more visually entertaining thanks to the fairground setting, and while the killer’s deformity crosses over into borderline science fiction, it’s still a fun Rick Baker creation. Special features include bonus interviews and a Tobe Hooper commentary hosted by 2001 Maniacs director Tim Sullivan.
Also being distributed by Shout Factory this week is 1979’s Terror Train, a standard slice-and-dicer notable primarily for being the directorial debut of Roger Spottiswoode (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot) and featuring the only feature-film performance by magician David Copperfield, whose conjuring tricks are the movie’s best special effects.
Pete’s Dragon returns to homes in Blu-ray for the first time today and we’ve got one for a lucky reader. From director Don Chaffey, who also made the Ray Harryhausen classic Jason and the Argonauts, this blend of live-action and animation is classic ’70s Disney, from its catchy songs (one of which, “Candle on the Water,” was Oscar-nominated) to an all-star cast of family faves like Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy, Jim Backus, Red Buttons, and Shelley Winters, plus a pre-Taxi Jeff Conaway as one of the villains. The movie follows Pete and his invisible dragon Elliott as they meet friends and make enemies in the tiny Maine village of Passamaquoddy. The movie is a perfect precursor for raising your young geek-in-the-making to grow up to become the Mother (or Father) of Dragons.
Win a chance to take home a Pete’s Dragon Blu-ray by entering our giveaway. You could be proudly displaying the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray on your shelf and telling people you own an invisible dragon. Though in this case you’ll be able to show them proof.
Also Out this Week:
Moonrise Kingdom – Speaking of Disney films from the 1970’s, Wes Anderson’s love letter to youthful innocence and romance is out today. Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson-y movie to date is now available to take home and prove to everyone that not only are you hip to this ’60s-chic-New-England-slice-of-life-adventure-film, but you’re also whimsical, dammit.
Avatar – The 3D film that started it all… wait, that’s not right. The most original film script of all time… hmm… not right either. The visual spectacle that fully immersed viewers in a an alien world of bright colors and tiny loincloths is coming to Blu-ray again, for the first time. Sort of. Avatar’s 3D release on Blu-ray when the film originally came out was tied to a very specific 3D television brand that bought up the exclusivity of the title. You had to buy a Panasonic TV to get Avatar in 3D on Blu-ray. The idea may have been for Avatar to sell as many 3D TVs as Halo sold X-boxes, but what it’s really done is frustrate 3D owners that didn’t want to buy Panasonic. So now the movie that made 3D popular again has been noticeably absent from many film collections. You can make up for it today and finally see Avatar the way it made you giddy the first five times you saw it in the theater.
Chernobyl Diaries – Found-footage films generally play better at home than in big theaters, where it’s easy to confuse atmospheric sound design with some guy loudly chewing popcorn two rows back. Plus, seriously, if these things were really shot on consumer-grade equipment (especially Paranormal Activity 3, supposedly on VHS), they’d never look that clear blown up big. So if you missed this one – cowritten by PA creator Oren Peli – in theaters, fear not, or rather, fear more: it’ll work more effectively in the quiet of a darkened living room. Sadly scant extras include a viral video, fake infomercial and one additional scene.
Additional reporting By Luke Y. Thompson