Herc’s Popular Pricing Pantry
The first five “X-Men” movies on Blu-ray, $129.99 in August and $116.99 last week, has just fallen to its lowest price ever: $44.99 (76% Off!!) $9 Per Blu Movie!! (“X-Men: First Class” sells separately for $17.69!!)
The first two seasons of “Mr. Show” (starring Bob “Breaking Bad” Odenkirk, David “Arrested Development” Cross, Mary-Lynn “24” Rajskub, and Sarah “The Sarah Silverman Program” Silverman), $29.99 in 2008 and $14.49 last month, is now $8.75!! (65% Off!!)
New This Week
The PG-13 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I feels enormously faithful to my memory of the 1986 Frank Miller comic series (which, truthfully, I’ve not read in decades).
What’s surprising is how much it resembles this summer’s “Dark Knight Rises,” with its physically compromised Bruce Wayne returning to crimefighting after a decade away, and the uber-muscled Mutant Leader breaking Wayne’s arm in hand-to-hand combat. (The back-breaking Bane arrived in the comics a few years after Mutant Leader.)
One also feels the influence of Miller’s tale on the old “Batman Beyond” series.
Carrie Kelley, with her decision to don a Robin costume and self-train, comes off more Kick-Ass than Hit Girl.
The new made-for-Blu movie also reminds us that it revealed the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, two years before Todd’s death was depicted in Batman #428.
Peter Weller was an inspired choice, providing likely the best Batman vocals I’ve ever heard in a cartoon. A pair of Harvey Dent-centric episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” are included on this set, and I’ll be danged if Kevin Conroy doesn’t sound downright wimpy in the shadow of Weller’s gravelly baritone. (I wonder if Weller’s casting was somehow precipitated by similar scenes in DKR and “RoboCop” in which the hero grabs a gun-toting bad guy by reaching through a solid wall.)
Equally inspired is the casting of “Lost” player Michael Emerson as The Joker. Emerson’s voice is only heard at the end of Part 1 but will be much more a part of Part 2. (Part 2, out this winter, will also feature Mark Valley as Clark Kent, who comes to regard Bruce Wayne as a dangerous adversary.)
* DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PART II SNEAK PEAK (6:53) featuring snippets of interviews with Weller, Emerson and Valley.
* HER NAME IS CARRIE, HER ROLE IS ROBIN (12:23) reveals via Grant Morrison that John Byrne suggested that Miller include a female Robin for DKR. Learn that busty future Bond girl Jill St. John disguised herself as Robin in the first two episodes of the Adam West “Batman” TV series.
* BATMAN AND ME (38:26) the excellent 2008 documentary about Batman creator Bob Kane.
* TWO EPISODES OF BATMAN (the animated series): “TWO-FACE” PARTS ONE AND TWO, originally aired exactly 20 years ago today.
“American Horror Story” is the latest from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who created “Glee” together before Murphy went off to write and direct the equally horrible “Eat Pray Love.” I did not expect much from this series, and my expectations were met.
“Horror” follows a couple and their teen daughter after they move into a really cheap, really haunted house in Los Angeles.
Its cast includes Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”), Dylan McDermott (“The Practice”), Francis Conroy (“Six Feet Under”), Denis O’Hare (“True Blood”), Taissa Farmiga (kid sister of Vera) and Jessica Lange (“Tootsie”).
While the first episode, directed by Murphy, may be scary stupid, it is not scary. Recently I coincidentally caught the first two “Paranormal Activity” movies on Epix, and they are spine-chilling. My spine literally tingled as it seemed to grow cold, and more than once. “Paranormal” and its sequel gave me the willies. “Horror’s” stabs at fright elicited only the rolling of mine eyes.
The bigger sin is it’s hard to care about any of "Horror's" very bland, clichéd human characters, to the point where viewers may likely find themselves better liking the unpleasant ghosts. (I have the same complaint about Fox’s “Terra Nova,” if one substitutes ‘saurs for shades.)
I sense the creators quite enjoyed Stanley Kubrick’s (infinitely superior) big-screen version of the Stephen King thriller “The Shining.” The central couple suffers from marital discord. The ghosts of murdered twin children lurk about. There’s one ghost whose appearance switches between young and sexy to old and wrinkly. (Like the old lady in the Overlook Hotel bathtub, she goes into hottie mode to seduce the new man of the house.)
In the plus column, “Horror” could appeal to certain gay elements even more than “Glee” does. The house’s dead (but maybe still hanging about) prior owners were a saucy homosexual couple with a penchant for rubber suits and basement bondage. McDermott parades around naked a lot and even gets a steamy stand-up masturbation scene that could have been designed to show off his Playgirl-friendly physique. But the broad sexual imagery rarely compensates for the frequently terrible dialogue, or the frequently ridiculous behavior.
O’Hare’s character, a burn victim and convicted triple-murderer, is weirdly reminiscent of Chris Elliott’s deformed character from “Scary Movie 2.” (It turns out this convicted triple murderer, who when we meet him seems way too emotionally unstable for anyone’s comfort, was somehow set free upon the world because he came down with brain cancer.) It’s as if the creators, emboldened from the shocking popularity of “Glee,” submitted the “Horror” script to FX on a dare.
I’ve little doubt “Horror” will -- like Murphy’s prior FX series “Nip/Tuck” – enjoy a long run on FX, but make no mistake: the only thing likely to haunt most viewers is the memory of how ineptly this enterprise was slapped together.
... Even more than usual, the characters are place-holders, caricatures or grab-bags of wacky traits. … There is no real thematic progression or character development. Generally speaking, things just randomly happen. …
… has pretensions of depth and ambition, but really all it's about is whatever cool thing Murphy and Falchuk wanted to do next, hurled at the screen with such reckless abandon that none of it works. …
... when a show is this far off the rails in its opening episode, it's pretty much telling you what kind of ride you're in for. ... a duller, denser, more unpleasant clan has never stumbled its way through a haunted house. …
... the Gleeks should feel perfectly at home with “Horror Story.” The similarities are greater than the differences, and they start with the love of excess that stretches through “Glee” and back to the first Murphy-Falchuk collaboration, “Nip/Tuck.” Other, less palatable hallmarks of their method are here as well: a certain hollow theatricality, a willingness to accept one-dimensional characters and pat story lines ...
... It's structured, in fact, a bit like "Glee" — exposition created to showcase the big numbers, in this case, the revelation of some new manifestation of evil and/or depravity. Not surprisingly, the two shows share a similar problem — too many ideas and not enough storytelling. But horror is the most delicate and difficult genre, requiring an exquisite balance of anticipation and action. Stomp down those basement stairs too loudly or too often and horror collapses into camp, which "American Horror Story" unfortunately does upon more than one occasion. ...
.... a nonsensical roller coaster ride … It's unclear if this lack of clarity is an intentional effort to confuse or just sloppy filmmaking. …
... The loopiness of the script, combined with unsettlingly jerky camerawork, especially in Wednesday's premiere episode (the camera calms down a bit in Episodes 2 and 3), make the actual horror aspects of the show passably effective. But what's lacking in the premiere episode is the kind of "don't open that door!" and "someone's behind you!" suspense that Hitchcock, most notably, built into his best films. ...
... So much creepy stuff happens in the first episode that viewers will be left asking: Can I possibly watch an entire series of this? Followed, of course, by a more obvious question: Why do they stay in that house? Overdoing things is one of Murphy’s trademark flaws, but this show has a captivating style and giddy gross-outs. ...
... I loved the pilot, mostly because I could never predict where the story was going, a rarity in prime-time TV. Leave it to Murphy: In an industry that churns out cookie-cutter product, he’s an original. ...
… After a while, the story seems to have no more depth and logic than an artsy music video. …
... The creative team's fondness for the material appears unquestionable; whether they can exorcise what ails their show remains the real mystery. … The main problem with a haunted-house series is making things scary without becoming so alarming the family flees screaming into the night in episode one. A second hour, however, rather than offering clarity or reassurance, only reinforces these doubts. …
... You don’t need to be a genius to know the threat level is pretty high in that house. And that’s really the primary problem with American Horror Story, which has numerous other problems that make little to no sense. …
Army Wives 6.x
Body Of Proof 2.x
Get A Life: The Complete Series
Hawaii Five-0 2.x
Hawaii Five-0 2.x (Blu-ray)
Inspector Lewis 5.x
Man Vs. Wild: Close Calls
The Mentalist 4.x
Modern Family 3.x
Modern Family 3.x (Blu-ray)
Steve Martin: The Television Stuff
Supernatural 7.x (Blu-ray)
Whiplash: The Complete Series
The Abbott and Costello Show 1.x
Adventure Time: Jake Vs. Me-Mow
Alvin And The Chipmunks: Christmas With The Chipmunks
Batman Supervillains: Catwoman
Batman Supervillains: Killer Croc
Big John, Little John: The Complete Series
Downton Abbey 1.x/2.x
The Six Million Dollar Man 2.x
Thundercats 1.x Vol. 3
Transformers Rescue Bots: Roll to the Rescue
VR Troopers 1.x Vol. 1
Care Bears: The Original Series Collection
Combat: 20 Episodes
Doctor Who: Ambassadors of Death
Happiness Is Peanuts
Holliston 1.x (Blu-ray)
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia 7.x
Columbo: The Complete Series
DeGrassi 11.x Vol. 2
The Firm: The Complete Series
Flashpoint 4-Season Set
Gunsmoke 6.x Vol. 2
Gunsmoke 6-Season Pack
The Ice House: The Complete Miniseries
Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1995-Reserve
The Office: Secret Santa Pack
Pound Puppies: Super Secret Pup Club
Power Rangers Super Samurai: Christmas Together, Friends Forever
The Red Green Show: The Complete Series
Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales
Triple Terror: The Shining/It/Salem's Lot
The Young Riders: 24-Hour Marathon <--- NEW!!
Copper 1.x (Blu-ray)
Metalocalypse 4.x (Blu-ray)
My Favorite Martian 3.x
The Streets of San Francisco 5.x
Alvin And The Chipmunks: Christmas With The Chipmunks (Blu-ray)
Call The Midwife 1.x
H2O Just Add Water: The Complete Series
Law & Order 11.x
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams 1.x
Porky & Friends
Regular Show: Best DVD
Sesame Street: Old School Vol. 3
SpongeBob Christmas! (Blu-ray)
Wolf Lake: The Complete Series
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: The Complete Series
SpongeBob SquarePants 4.x
SpongeBob SquarePants 5.x
SpongeBob SquarePants 6.x
Ancient Aliens 4.x
Ancient Aliens 4.x (Blu-ray)
Diff'rent Strokes 4.x
The Dust Bowl: The Complete Miniseries
The Dust Bowl: The Complete Miniseries (Blu-ray)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series <--- NEW!!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 1.x Vol. 2
Transformers Prime 2.x
Hot In Cleveland 3.x
Luck 1.x (Blu-ray)
Perry Mason 8.x Vol. 1
Stargate Atlantis 1.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Stargate Atlantis 2.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Stargate Atlantis 3.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Stargate Atlantis 4.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Stargate Atlantis 5.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXV
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, Vol.2
Power Rangers Super Samurai: The Complete Season <--- NEW!!
Power Rangers Super Samurai: The Complete Season (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!
Simpsons 15.x <--- NEW!!
Simpsons 15.x (Blu-ray) <--- NEW!!